Health and Social Care

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:38 pm on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Dr Caroline Johnson Dr Caroline Johnson Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham 4:38 pm, 16th January 2020

It is an honour to speak on a Queen’s Speech that has set out such a fantastic programme for government, and from a Conservative majority Government. As a consultant paediatrician, it is particularly special for me to be able to speak in a debate on health.

I want to talk about the importance of engineers. My daddy is very fond of telling me that engineers have saved more people’s lives than doctors have; it will perhaps not surprise Members to know that daddy is an engineer. To some extent he is right, because improvements in water, sanitation, investigatory tools such as CT and MRI, and ventilating machines have saved many lives. That is why I am really pleased that the Government are bringing forward the medicines and medical devices Bill: it is by investing in research and increasing the number of people in clinical trials, and investing in research and development generally—the Government are committed to increasing investment in R and D to 2.4% of GDP—that we will be able to improve people’s lives. This is not all about increasing the NHS budget, although I am also pleased to see that we are giving the NHS its biggest ever cash injection, at £33 billion by 2023.

In my last minute, I want to talk about diagnostic centres. Grantham Hospital is very important to me and to my constituents, and to the constituents of my new neighbour, my hon. Friend Gareth Davies. I was pleased that earlier this week we were able to meet the Health Secretary to talk about the hospital’s future—a positive and excellent future, in a growing town.

As a doctor, I have seen a progressive move towards greater centralisation, with services becoming increasingly remote from the people whom they serve. That makes sense for low-volume, high-complexity work, because it improves outcomes for the patients who need such treatment, but it does not make sense for high-volume, low-complexity work, which should be delivered closer to home. I was pleased to hear the Health Secretary say essentially just that in his speech earlier today, when he suggested that diagnostics and investigations would move closer to home, which would mean a positive future for Grantham Hospital and the people there.

However, my first priority—and, no doubt, that of my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford —is to ensure that the hospital’s A&E department reopens as a 24-hour, round-the-clock service. That is no more than my constituents deserve.