THIS week saw the return of Parliament, following the party conference recess. Since that time events have unfolded so quickly I hardly dare write about them for fear it will have changed again by the time this goes to press.
As I write we have a new chancellor and a very different version of what was the mini budget. We will all have views as to whether this is better or worse, but until we have some more concrete details and we see how the markets react it’s hard to pass judgement.
On Wednesday, I led a debate in Westminster Hall on access to health and care in rural areas. This does really matter. I have been concerned for some time that the current one-size-fits-all system simply doesn’t work.
I recently published the findings of a three-year inquiry into this issue that I chaired. This debate was a chance to press home the findings in that report – and ask for its recommendations to be implemented.
A good example of where the system doesn’t work is our emergency care. Some parts of rural Britain could never be reached by an ambulance within the target times set. Remoteness and distance need to be better factored in and budgeted for. We need to find a new way of dealing with emergency calls.
If we properly integrated our use of fire services, police, and ambulances working with our first responders, we would get a better outcome.
Let us triage the calls as they come in differently, and then let us use those individuals and organisations better, removing the many barriers including different pay scales.
One of the key areas identified by the new Health Secretary in her ‘ABCD’ plan for improvement is care. If we don’t solve the care problem we won’t be able to get the NHS back on its feet and patients discharged in a timely way to make room for new patients.
The adult social care discharge fund, although welcome, is not going to be enough. This is a huge problem in rural areas where the number of beds per head of population is very low.
With a shortage of care in the community, and ever decreasing numbers of residential nursing care homes, we need to put a halt to closing community hospitals like Teignmouth and look again at how they can be used. Perfection can often be the enemy of the good.
Government needs to properly understand and investigate the needs in different rural communities, and then it needs to provide funding to meet that need.
One way of improving recruitment and retention is to design more local training schemes. Too many medical schools are in urban settings with no rural content or experience.
We should also create new, shorter courses and new professions to enable us to get on top of the backlog faster. We need to design narrower roles and careers to supplement what we have already.
In the main chamber, the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill started its passage through both houses. This Bill will help to crack down on economic crime – preventing foreign owners from laundering their money in the UK and abusing corporate structures to hide their illegal activities. This is thoroughly welcomed.
The Bill will reform Companies House, allowing better sharing of suspicious information with law enforcement bodies. It will tighten company registration requirements, and update our laws so crypto-assets can be seized and recovered.
It will also enable better and more rigorous scrutiny of who directors are, and whether they are fit to be directors. All new and existing registered company directors, people with ‘significant control’, and those ‘delivering documents’ will be required to verify their identities to support law enforcement investigations.
As always, if you would like to book a surgery appointment (in-person or virtual) or raise a specific issue, please call my office on 01626 368277 or email [email protected] to arrange an appointment.