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Health 2024

Image by Ian Taylor

State for Health,  in its bid to secure the funding necessary to modernise the Maternity Unit at the QEQM Hospital, Margate. (That process has been interrupted by the calling of the General Election). 

I have also worked closely with General Practitioners and Dental Surgeons to try to resolve the difficulties that they face from ever-increasing demands upon limited staff and resources. I shall hope to be able to continue to do so. 

It is a sad fact, however, that to some extent the Health Services at both Primary and Secondary levels, have since the Covid 19 pandemic been running at a stand-still.  The pandemic itself placed an enormous strain not only upon staff, who were nothing short of heroic in their dedication to duty, but also upon resources, finances and the flow of people entering the medical professions.  There is no simple resolution to the resulting problems or potential swift solution to the backlog of patients awaiting treatment as a result of operations and procedures cancelled. 

The Government has made and continues to make record levels of investment in the NHS, both in capital and revenue costs but throwing still more money at the problem is not the only solution. 

The NHS is a vast and monolithic organisation that, on a daily basis, wastes very significant sums of taxpayers’ money.  It has become over-bureaucratic and over-managed.  Any qualified practitioner will tell you that there are far too many people who have no medical reason to be there languishing in hospital beds because of a lack of step-down facilities while admissions through A&E Departments are waiting on trollies in corridors for vacancies.  Additionally, the lack of staffing, post-pandemic, in GP surgeries has led to greater numbers that do not class as either ‘accident` or `emergency` trying to access treatment through A&E.  Very significant numbers of young doctors and nurses are in training but must qualify and gain experience before they can help to alleviate the position.  And it is my personal view (not necessarily that of the Government) that while nobody wants family or friends to be treated by inexperienced or ill-qualified practitioners the restrictions of the authorities placed upon the recruitment of staff from overseas is making a difficult situation worse. (See dentistry – below). 

It must also be said that industrial action in support of the Junior Doctors` unrealistic pay demands has contributed and continues to contribute very directly to NHS waiting lists as appointments have been cancelled due to strikes. 

If it is hard on occasions to get a GP appointment (although emergencies will always be seen) it is harder still to obtain NHS dental treatment.  I have visited a couple of understandably very low profile but excellent NHS dental practices recently and it is clear that good treatment can be both offered and afforded as a public service.  At the same time we have to remember that Dental Practices, like GP services, are private businesses and the acquisition of many by large companies has militated against the NHS while through the `Units of Dental Activity` payment system for NHS patients diminishing the quality of treatment offered.

At the same time there are, it is said, some 200 qualified Ukrainian dentists resident as refugees in Britain who are, because of the current restrictions imposed by the General Dental Council not permitted to practice in the United Kingdom! 

The Secretary of State for Health, Victoria Atkins, and the Minister responsible for Dentistry have both been grappling with these issues and the Government will continue to do so. The NHS is a vital part of our national infrastructure and must remain so. But there is further reform as well yet more investment that will be required to rectify the weaknesses in the NHS and anyone, of any party-political persuasion, who tries to pretend otherwise is being dishonest.  Pre-pandemic we were making real progress. Post pandemic there is very great deal more to do.

Like many of my constituents I owe my life to the National Health Service.  Without the treatment that I received in the East Kent Hospitals Trust I would almost certainly not be alive to fight this election today.  Not surprisingly, therefore, I have nothing but admiration for the surgeons and clinicians, the nursing and the ancillary staff that week in and week out look after the health of those that over many years I have been elected to represent. 

I have worked closely with the administrations of  our local hospitals to try to ensure that they receive the funding and the staffing that they require to provide the best possible service and most recently I have been supporting the EKHT, up to and including a very recent meeting with the Secretary of

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