Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:02 pm on 14th May 2019.

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Photo of Suella Braverman Suella Braverman Conservative, Fareham 5:02 pm, 14th May 2019

I am pleased to speak in this debate about local public health, but the Opposition are seriously off target in calling for it in the first place. Of all Government budgets, the NHS has had record investment since 2010 and, although I am not going to do Labour Members’ work for them, there are stronger cases that could have been made about public funding in other Departments. When we look at public health outcomes since 2010, the Conservatives can point to a good record. The Labour party does not have a monopoly on our health service. There is this assumption that Labour somehow knows best and that the solution is simply more cash and more managers, but that is not true at all. I grew up as a proud Conservative and as a daughter of an NHS nurse—my mother worked for the NHS for 45 years. The NHS has been there for my family, for me and for my baby to be, which is due in July. I love the NHS, and just because I am on the Conservative side of the Chamber does not diminish my commitment to it whatsoever.

I want to speak about Fareham, where there are definite challenges when it comes to health services, such as with the mental health services provided by the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. I want to put on the record my gratitude to the Secretary of State for meeting me on behalf of some of the families who have been affected by Southern Health’s issues. When it comes to social care, I have met many relatives of elderly residents for whom the system has not worked well, a subject that I discussed in the Chamber some weeks ago.

Notwithstanding those challenges, I want to talk about a fantastic facility in my constituency called Fareham Community Hospital, and I am using my speech to launch a report that I have prepared about a future vision for how we can use the hospital better. When I was first elected in 2015, the No. 1 issue was how to make better use of Fareham Community Hospital. It is a relatively small, relatively new facility in the heart of the constituency, but it remains underutilised, according to several footfall surveys we have conducted. Rooms are frequently booked by various health trusts but still lie vacant, at considerable cost to the taxpayer. Complex lease arrangements render the release of space time-consuming and bureaucratic. There is no coherent public information system or public-facing management to signpost services for local people.

Random and sporadic services are offered. Most recently, phlebotomy and blood testing were removed, much to the disappointment of many residents and to Friends of Fareham Community Hospital, which plays a vital role in co-ordinating volunteers who want to support this asset. In short, the hospital is at risk of becoming a wasted opportunity and a wasted asset.

I set up a Fareham Community Hospital taskforce in 2015 to bring together many of the health providers: the local CCGs; Hampshire County Council; Solent NHS Trust; Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust; Friends of Fareham Community Hospital; Community Health Partnerships Ltd; Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust; and University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. The sheer number of organisations reflects the complexity of how the hospital is run.

Last year, I ran a constituency-wide survey on how the community would like to see the hospital run better. I am grateful to the many hundreds of people and all the organisations that participated. I am pleased to launch the “Fareham Community Hospital Future Vision” report, which can be found on my website. The report compiles the survey, and it makes seven recommendations.

First, the report welcomes the new primary care same-day access scheme run by local GPs at the Jubilee, Whiteley and Highlands surgeries for the past 18 months, which is a reflection of the historic £4.5 billion commitment at national level for primary and community health. The scheme has been welcomed by the community, and it is working effectively. There is a call for it to be expanded to other GP surgeries. I put on record my thanks to Dr Tom Bertram for leading the initiative.

Secondly, the report recommends that more consideration be given to other clinical priorities. Scanning facilities and using the hospital as a diagnostic centre could be viable options for the future. Thirdly, public health functions should be considered at FCH. A public health hub could support patients with clinical obesity, depression, anxiety and other conditions. Lastly, accessibility is a key theme running through the responses. We need a bus stop at the hospital and a method to enable elderly and ill patients to get to it more easily.

Fareham Community Hospital is a great example of how a local asset is available to a community and how local health providers can come together to make it more responsive to local needs. I am pleased to launch the “Fareham Community Hospital Future Vision” report today, and I hope it provides a starting point for future work.