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NHS Funding Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:09 pm on 27th January 2020.

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Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis Conservative, Banbury 8:09 pm, 27th January 2020

It is a pleasure to follow such a great speech and to see Chris Bryant looking so well.

There is no complacency on this side of the House, but there is a feeling that this is an upbeat debate. I am thrilled to support the Bill and, indeed, to support the great Health team. It is hard to choose a favourite among them, because I have so many asks.

No one will be surprised that I start with the exciting developments at Horton General Hospital. First, we have a new award-winning, nurse-led clinic for deep vein thrombosis. It is a one-stop diagnostic clinic for patients who need urgent treatment, and it is up and running now. Secondly, we have the Horton hip fracture clinic, which has been named as one of the best in the country for the past seven years in a row. Thirdly, we have a new chemotherapy service, launched last September, for children aged up to 19. The service provides intravenous chemo for patients who would otherwise travel to Oxford. We are now in a good place at Horton General Hospital.

We are recovering from that dreadful period in which I was first elected, when we all went to court against the clinical commissioning group. There was a botched consultation and relationships fractured. It was town versus city, and all was not a happy place. We have worked hard on repairing those broken relationships. Lou Patten, the head of our clinical commissioning group, deserves a special mention. Sadly, she moves on in March, but I spoke to her this morning and we have high hopes that her successor will continue to take things forward. We are united in our desire to make sure the Horton is fit for the future.

We have plans for a new modular building, and the Department will be hearing from us on those plans very shortly. I say to colleagues that it is worth working together to rebuild those fractured relationships. We are making real progress locally.

There is certainly no cause for complacency on primary care. GP appointments continue to be an issue, and the Horsefair surgery is in the local news a great deal at the moment. We have a great campaigning local journalist, even though she has stood against me at several general elections, and this is one example of how we can work together to put things right. Following those stories, and following the complaints I have received from constituents, I spoke this morning to the clinical commissioning group, which told me that it will investigate the issues that have been raised.

The Horsefair surgery recently changed ownership, and it is moving from the locum model to having more employed GPs, which can only be good, but bravery is needed to tackle the systemic difficulties in how GPs operate, particularly in areas of the country where the building’s ownership can make a real difference to a practice’s sustainability.

We have been hearing a great deal about palliative care in the national news this week, with our brilliant Katharine House hospice featuring heavily. We have real concerns about the funding model for palliative care. We want to enable people to die at home, or as near to home as possible, and I will be writing to the Department further about this.

I have been involved with the all-party parliamentary group on baby loss since the beginning, when I was vice-chairman because it seemed to me that other Members had more current stories to tell. This afternoon, those other Members either having left this place or having moved to ministerial office, I was elected as chairman. Mrs Hodgson and I have always been involved with the APPG, and we all share in its extraordinary success so far.

I would like to claim some credit for how the APPG bolstered the Government’s ambition to reduce stillborn and neonatal deaths and also for Jack’s law, which is about to be enacted in April, but we have much more to do. My hon. Friend Mrs Elphicke spoke very movingly about Tallulah-Rai, and we must make certain such mistakes do not happen again.

I have two specific requests of the Department this evening. The first is for data. The Department has an ambitious target to reduce the number of stillborn and neonatal deaths. We need to see what we have been doing for the past five years and we need to see what works to enable us to take forward the “Saving Babies’ Lives” care bundle in the most strategically useful and efficient way, so I will be writing to the Department on behalf of the APPG specifically to ask for data.

My second major ask is about the national bereavement care pathway. I am glad to say that only nine trusts, a very small number, have not engaged with the APPG on this at all. I will be naming them in the future, so I strongly advise them to engage pretty soon. Many trusts are starting to establish services, but the APPG is calling this year for the Department to support the roll-out of the national bereavement care pathway. We want both policy and financial support and real oomph behind this initiative.

I am particularly grateful to the Department for telling CQC inspectors that the national bereavement care pathway has to be part of the maternity section of their inspections. Can the pathway also be included in the A&E and gynaecology sections? Only if hospitals have to consider this on a nitty-gritty level will they insist that it is taken forward seriously.

I have trespassed long enough on your indulgence, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I welcome this initiative, and I really think there is hope for the future.