NHS Workforce: England — [Mrs Madeleine Moon in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:49 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives 2:49 pm, 17th July 2019

I congratulate Eleanor Smith on securing this debate on an issue that she and I have discussed—her office is near mine in Norman Shaw North—and both care deeply about.

I am glad to see the Minister in his place. He knows my constituency well and understands the challenge of getting to it. In fact, he was the first MP ever to visit me in the heady days before 2010, when I stood as a parliamentary candidate because I thought that coming to Parliament would be a great way of changing the world. I have since learned that that is probably not the case.

The credit should really sit with the people who work in the NHS. In particular, I pay tribute and sent my thanks to those who work in West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance, Helston Community Hospital—or cottage hospital, for those of us who grew up there—and other places where NHS staff and others do a fantastic job in really difficult situations, as we have heard. They make sure that people who arrive for whatever reason get the best possible care.

I was keen to take part in the debate because I recognise that things need to be done. We must take responsibility for the way things are at the moment, and although I understand what the legal responsibility is and the reason for the debate, I want to understand a bit more about the solutions, too. I have never thought that all the solutions can be created, thought up or delivered here in Westminster or in any Government Department. Although real progress in integration and improving services on the ground needs to be enabled through legislation, support and encouragement, people in health and social care in Cornwall have got together and worked extremely hard for many years to deliver a system in which pathways and integration are much better than when I welcomed the Minister off the train.

One problem of many is the workforce, which is undoubtedly a challenge. There is also no doubt that the NHS 10-year plan is a fantastic document, but it depends heavily on workforce. I know that the Minister will agree and will want to ensure that we have people in place. We may not participate in this Chamber, but across Parliament, the bunfight, debate and arguments about the NHS go on, and have been taken up by people in local campaigns and the media. That has created an situation in which people choose not nurse or do anything else in the NHS because they are misinformed. I know of lots of people who would have gone into or considered going into nursing or social care, but will not do so because the NHS is a political hot potato.