I would not be seen dead in my hon. Friend’s patch. I have enough issues with my own.
There are two community hospitals in my constituency: Westminster Memorial in Shaftesbury and the excellent Blandford Community Hospital. I am a friend of both, and both friends’ organisations do a huge amount of vital fundraising work. The Minister is well apprised of the important role such hospitals play, particularly in rural settings after discharge from A&E, just before people can go home. Community hospitals need support and fresh attention.
Likewise—I am pleased that the Department prioritised this earlier in the year—community pharmacists play a huge and important role. I am told by our CCG that it is almost a cardinal sin to even consider this, but I would love to see a representative of the community pharmacies on the boards of each CCG, by mandate, because they have a vital role to play in our NHS family. As the previous chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on multiple sclerosis, may I also urge a greater rapidity with regard to the prescribing of medical cannabis?
NHS dentistry needs a fillip. I am often contacted by constituents about this—indeed, I was contacted by a lady from Stalbridge the other week who has now been trying to get on an NHS dentist waiting list for two years. That is simply not good enough when dental health is coming under pressure.
Speaking with another APPG hat on, I know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is alert to the need for a speedy renewal of the health grant for those suffering as a result of thalidomide. That takes place in 2022-23. We all know the story of thalidomide; I am not going to rehearse it. We owe the victims of that scandal our support, and I hope that the grant will be renewed, either from new money from the Treasury in the comprehensive spending review or from the current NHS budget.
This is an opportunity to think about the future of the national health service, as my hon. Friend Dean Russell said. We would all hold it in even greater esteem if all of us, as patients, were alert to the cost—the actual cost—of our medicines and our treatments. There would be far fewer medicines flushed down the loo and far fewer appointments missed if people knew the true cost to them, as taxpayers.
A number of hon. and right hon. Members have referenced the need to bolster preventive health still further. There is far more that we can do. Very often, the NHS is a national ill-health service; it merely picks up the problems that a more proactive preventive agenda could have solved. In that regard, I make a plea, in particular, for bowel cancer and prostate cancer—indeed, for the male cancers generally, which often get overlooked.