SOMETIMES, Westminster feels very remote from home.
For instance, when politicians want to debate the constitution, or their own salaries, I groan at the lack of relevance to our every day lives at home. But other times, there is a convergence of what is being debated in Westminster and what is considered a priority at home.
Our hospital and local health service is a case in point. Anyone remotely interested in our health service will be aware that there is a major reforming bill being considered in Parliament. It has met some opposition and the Government has opened a listening exercise and invited contributions. There is a lot of disagreement on what should and shouldn’t remain in the bill. I am watching carefully and listening to what my constituents want. But one thing is clear, we must not just say “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. We do need to make changes. We must not allow our affection for the NHS to blind us to its weaknesses.
Take our local full service hospital, the Conquest. I have roughly the same number of letters praising the service that patients receive as those apoplectic with rage and sorrow about the treatment of a loved one. Sometimes it seems impossible that they are talking about the same place. My own experience and my family’s has been wholly positive. But, the recent report by the Care Quality Commission raised serious concerns.
We should all be critical friends to out hospital and health service. I value and will protect a NHS free to all. But we must not be fearful of change. At home, we need improvements to our hospital so that the experience of all, not just some, is a positive one. Our Conquest Hospital is “under new management”.
There is a big task ahead to meet the concerns of the report and the issues reflected in my post bag.
And at a national level in Westminster the debate continues as we try to find a direction for our NHS that delivers the changes and improvements that will raise standards and continue to deliver a service free to all.