Standing up in Parliament for our NHS

I write with confidence that every reader of this column will have used the NHS throughout their lives.

It is our nation’s most cherished of public services. Last week I took part in the Queen’s Speech parliamentary debate on our NHS, welcoming the Government’s additional £33.9 billion of funding support for our health service. In recent years we have seen services return to Crawley, but there is more to do.

On issues such as GP provision, I have been calling on the Government to address waiting times, as the Prime Minister pledged on the steps of Downing Street almost 100 days ago.

It is right that mental health is being treated on a par with physical health, with Crawley schools to take part in a pilot programme where new specialist Mental Health Support Teams will work alongside school counsellors and provide one-to-one support to pupils. This collaborative approach between West Sussex County Council, the Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS is to be welcomed.

As Blood Cancer All-Party Parliamentary Group Chair, I support the Government’s efforts in ensuring 75 per cent of cancers are diagnosed at stages 1 and 2 by 2028. Blood cancer is more difficult to detect however, and the Department of Health & Social Care and the NHS must consider these patients and their support networks when taking action.

The day after my speech, news broke of a development which a number of Crawley residents have contacted me on in recent months. NHS England confirmed that patients are to have full access to Cystic Fibrosis medicines Orkambi, Symkevi and Kalydeco, with some 5,000 people potentially taking up these treatments.

The Queen’s Speech includes proposals to establish the Health Service Safety Investigations Body, the world’s first such organisation; a Medicines & Medical Devices Bill to ensure the NHS has faster access to innovative medicines; and continuing reform of the Mental Health Act to see that people get the support they need, with a much greater say in their care.

Henry Smith MP