Well, they do say a week is a long time in politics and this week has certainly been indicative of that! The record number of resignations from this Government finally prompted the Prime Minister to resign on Thursday. I won’t say he did the right thing, because the right thing to have done would have been resign a long time ago. It is not simply his disgraceful behaviour in appointing someone to a power of position who had already demonstrated himself to be unfit, but the continuous lies, refusal to take responsibility, and general incompetence of his leadership. We face serious challenges as a country and need a serious, responsible, and trustworthy Prime Minister to lead the country.
I began the week with a debate in Westminster Hall on the issue of Assisted Dying. I have wanted to change the law on assisted dying since I became a Member of Parliament, following my experience 14 years ago working with clinicians on how to communicate with patients about how to live and die with respiratory disease. The work opened my eyes to how we talk about death, how we do not prepare for the inevitable and how, although we seek to have choice, agency and freedom throughout our lives, we have no power at the end. End-of-life care has improved since my work in the health service 14 years ago, but there is still a contrast between how we talk about dying and how we attempt to talk about other care. As MPs, we must understand the wishes and desires that exist in our communities for end-of-life care, we must learn from those who do operate an assisted dying law, and we must ensure we address all the concerns around assisted dying, particularly regarding safeguarding.
I was pleased to speak in another Westminster Hall debate this week, this time on ambulance and emergency department waiting times. A record six million people are currently waiting for NHS treatment. There is a shortage of 100,000 staff and 17,000 fewer beds. That is not due to the pandemic, but deliberate underfunding of the NHS by a government who themselves admit—as the Culture Secretary recently did—that a decade of Conservative mismanagement had left our NHS “wanting and inadequate” even before Covid hit. Our highly skilled emergency department staff and paramedics show incredible courage and quick thinking on a daily basis. They need our support and they need a proper workforce plan that addresses shortages not only in emergency care but across the whole NHS. The crux of the matter is that unless we improve discharges from hospitals and ensure that our social care system is fit for purpose, we will not resolve the issue at the front of the hospital and we will not be helping patients. The pressures in hospital discharges have a direct impact on waiting times in emergency departments, and they put staff under pressure and patients in danger.
I was in Manchester this week to meet the team at the Healthy Hyde Primary Care Network to hear about their projects. We need to ensure that everyone is able to access healthcare and understand the importance of behaviours that can help prevent health issues from occurring, such as support with dietary requirements, accessible exercise opportunities, as well as support with mental health. We need a joined up health and social care system so that hospitals are able to care for those who need hospitalisation, knowing that a care system is in place to support patients who are ready to be discharged.
I was back in Bristol today for a usual busy constituency day starting with a surgery. I also visited Temple Cycles, a small local Bristol business. They make a range of different bikes to suit anyone – beginner, city traveller, or adventurer. They even have a bike quiz and experts on hand to help customers find the best bike for them. Visit their website to find out more.
I was also able to visit Hartcliffe City Part with Bristol Food Producers. The farm is a working city farm, providing a green space with market and flower gardens for locals to enjoy, as well as producing food and offering volunteering opportunities. It is great to hear that they have received £250,000 of funding to turn the farm into a thriving community hub and I have no doubt that they will create and develop something really exciting. To find out more about the farm and the opportunities they offer, visit their website.
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