Hastings Observer Column - 18 January

Sometimes we can get caught up in the moment (Brexit in this case!) and lose sight of what is really important for our communities. While no one can deny the importance of making sure our departure from the European goes smoothly, we need to look outside of Westminster at what really matters such as our schools, businesses, and of course our NHS.

Last week, I was delighted to welcome the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, to Hastings. During the visit, we met with patients and members of staff at the Conquest Hospital on the ridge, and the walk-in centre by the station.

It’s our hardworking staff who make the NHS succeed, so I was grateful to hear first-hand from them during a Q&A with the Secretary of State. I am pleased to say that the Conquest Hospital exceeded the 95% target that all patients would be seen and either admitted to hospital or discharged within 4 hours of walking in. Thanks to our reforms, we can hope that the half days spent in an NHS waiting room are a thing of the past.

The reasons for the improvement are not just the additional £20.5 billion invested by the Government until 2024, but also reforms to ensure this money is spent efficiently – cutting waste and increasing prevention measures so no one has to find themselves in a hospital to begin with. These reforms are making a real impact for our towns, reducing waiting times and making sure our NHS is fit for the future by updating the technology used by the nurses and doctors who need it most.

I am proud of our health service and those who selflessly work within it. I will continue our fight to keep our walk-in centre where it is and will continue to support the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust in improving standards at the Conquest Hospital. A particular ambition of this Government is to improve mental health services available for patients. It is good news that £2 billion is earmarked for this exclusively, and I welcome new services being set up such as the i-Rock, which provides mental health support for young people. I also look forward to co-hosting an event focussed on mental health with Southdown Housing Association later in the year.