There has been much discussion recently over how we provide an effective and high-quality healthcare system. Specifically, the government’s proposals to make a reality of our manifesto pledge for a seven-day NHS have caused some controversy amongst the medical profession and their representatives.
I know there are some concerns from junior doctors locally, many of whom have contacted me to express their views on the proposal for new contract terms. All these dedicated professionals work very hard, and we are all very grateful for the vital work they do.
The changes being made are not about saving money, and will actually reduce the number of hours doctors are asked to work. The Health Secretary has also now offered an 11 per cent increase in basic pay. It is a real shame that the British Medical Association is putting patients at risk by asking their members to strike, rather than negotiating sensibly for the best outcome for everyone.
I think talking is the best way forward, which is why I hope the BMA will accept ministers’ invitation to get back round the table. It is also why I am organising a meeting in Fareham to hear from some of those who have written to me about the issue.
Another part of providing a better quality of service to patients is ensuring treatment is available close to those who need it.
Fareham Community Hospital remains underused and half-built, and subject to complex governance structures.
The hospital is a great facility, but many local people still struggle to get a GP appointment and have to travel to Queen Alexandra for routine check-ups or minor injuries. I think it would make sense to expand the services offered at Fareham to ease these pressures, particularly with an increasing local population.
The NHS is always an emotive issue, precisely because we all care about it so deeply. Doctors and nurses want what is best for their patients, and we in return rely on being able to access dedicated healthcare when we need it. We can’t do that if we don’t listen to one another.