NHS and Social Care Commission

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:51 pm on 28th January 2016.

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Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford 2:51 pm, 28th January 2016

It is an honour to follow Caroline Flint, my hon. Friend Maria Caulfield, Mr Clegg and other Members who have spoken. Excellent points have been made in every single contribution to the debate. One reason why I support the motion is that in my first contribution during this Parliament I said:

“Let us use the five years of this Parliament to set up a cross-party commission to look at health and social care for the next 20 to 30 years.”—[Hansard, 2 June 2015; Vol. 596, c. 524.]

I believed that then and I believe it now.

A substantial reason why I believe that comes from my experience representing Stafford since 2010 and my involvement in the community in the years before that. In the previous Parliament, there was a tremendous coming together of people from all parties in Stafford so that we could protect our health services and respond to the serious problems that we faced. We made proposals to the Government, as well as arguing with them and opposing some of their ideas, but we wanted to support our area’s health services. It was a privilege to be part of process in which people from all the main political parties and none were putting aside their differences and working together. I know that a similar thing happened in other constituencies, but I was especially grateful that that happened in Stafford, given what we had been through.

Another reason why I strongly support a commission—or a commitment, or a way of bringing us together—is that there are incredibly important issues to decide. My hon. Friends the Members for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison) and for Bracknell (Dr Lee) made important points about the issue of specialism and generalism. There is a danger of going too far down the specialist route and thinking that everything must be in a specialty. According to the Royal College of Physicians, this country has something like 62 specialties, yet some of the royal colleges want to go even further. Indeed, I understand that there is a desire further to split up cardiology into interventional and non-interventional cardiology, although I hope that that is not the case.

By contrast, the RCP pointed out that in Norway there were just over 20 specialties—it is a more generalised system. Whereas I agree that specialties need to be concentrated in the way that my hon. Friends have suggested, we must not cast out general medicine. We must not cast out those who would like to work in a more general way in a more localised setting. For many people that can be a more satisfying route, seeing the broad range of health, rather than one increasingly narrow part of healthcare.