NHS Winter Crisis

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 10th January 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Simon Hoare Simon Hoare Conservative, North Dorset 3:35 pm, 10th January 2018

It is a pleasure to follow Dr Allin-Khan. For what it is worth, I thank her, my hon. Friends the Members for Lewes (Maria Caulfield) and for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Dr Johnson) and other medical colleagues who have spent time working in our service over this period, looking after constituents. Their public serve is second to none. I also thank my hon. Friend Mr Dunne for the work that he has done within the Department, and I welcome the new team. I also echo many colleagues from around the Chamber—across parties and from all geographies of the country—in thanking NHS staff, ambulance drivers, paramedics and those who work in our county social services, all of whom are trying to play a part.

I am going to be distracted slightly, because I am going to take strong issue with the peroration of Margaret Greenwood, who said with full Momentum fury, “The NHS is a political entity.” I say to the hon. Lady, with the greatest of respect, that it is not. The national health service is a publicly funded service, free at the point of use, which is populated and staffed by publicly motivated and qualified public service medics and others, who look after our constituents and their health needs. They are not politicised; they are motivated by care. [Interruption.] Rather than chuntering from a sedentary position, I urge the hon. Lady to sit and reflect on her words, because her comment was one of the most dispiriting remarks that I have heard during my time in this House. While she is reflecting on her comments, she might also wish to reflect on the fact that, whenever the Treasury writes another cheque for the national health service—I am sure that practitioners will appreciate this—it always has to take into account the £2 billion a year private finance initiative albatross bequeathed by the Labour party.

I want to draw the attention of the House, as I did during the statement on Monday by my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow, to the importance of bedded community hospitals. Dorset CCG, under the leadership of Tim Goodson, has listened to our community campaign and has saved the beds in Westminster Memorial Hospital in Shaftesbury. In my judgment, the provision of those beds is absolutely pivotal in providing the link between the acute sector and people making their journey to recovery and then being on their way home. The collaborative work between the NHS and Dorset County Council—where there are social care officers with computers that are interlinked with and embedded within Westminster Memorial Hospital, working out the discharge care programmes—is pivotal. I appreciate that what we are doing in Dorset is not unique, but I also appreciate that it is not replicated everywhere; it does merit attention.

We should be focusing on far better advertisements for the use of our pharmacies, and we should ensure that community pharmacies are a much more collegiate network of service provision, taking pressure off GPs and A&E departments. I urge the Minister to ensure that CCGs are better encouraged to make sure that their boards include a representative from the pharmacy community. This siloed approach does not help the provision of care for our constituents.