Constituents know of my passion for, and focus on, health matters so it is great to become the new chairman of the influential Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee.
Earlier this month I gained the support of MPs from across the House to take over from Jeremy Hunt who has, of course, become Chancellor. The committee has the power to question ministers and conduct inquiries into health issues – sitting on a cross-party basis which is its’ great strength.
The ability of the health and social care sectors to continue to deliver for patients is a key priority for my committee, particularly how to deal with the backlog caused by the pandemic and the need to recruit a workforce that’s capable of meeting future demand. Further pressures look unavoidable given the current economic climate and the Chief Executive of the NHS has set that out starkly in recent weeks.
Despite spending vast sums on health, we fail to reap the rewards in better outcomes. We need to understand why and to press the government about getting better value for our money while delivering on the ‘day job’ around access to GP’s and dentists in particular.
On mental health, we’ve a real challenge as demand far outstrips supply and I know the Government could do so much more on prevention to help tackle deeply concerning issues around health inequalities. Prevention and cancer will be my focus in the role but look out for what will be a high profile piece of work on assisted dying/suicide in the New Year.
I welcome the opportunity as Chair to examine new solutions to support the NHS to enable it to continue providing the services that we all depend upon and I look forward to working with Ministers and MP’s across the House on what is our clear national priority.
This is a national role but it will complement well my work in the constituency and the response from local health leaders has been hugely supportive already. You can read more at stevebrine.com/prioritynhs
Secondly, and sticking with health, I spoke last month in an important debate in Parliament on access to fertility treatment for couples who are struggling to conceive naturally calling for a “step-change” in IVF treatment offered on the NHS.
NICE guidance state that if you are unable to have children without medical help, women under 40 should be able to access three full cycles of NHS IVF. Yet the vast majority of the 1 in 6 couples diagnosed with fertility problems cannot access that (sometimes they get one chance only) because of local NHS decisions.
We need, in my opinion, to level up access and we need the NHS across the board to recognise that fertility is a medical issue.
Three strikes and you’re out, let alone where it’s less than that, is actually rather cruel so I want to test how far Ministers are prepared to change the system. This is a subject I will be returning to in one (or more) forms during this Parliament.
Finally, my Winter constituency newspaper is out now and being delivered to homes across Winchester, Chandler’s Ford and the villages.
It is packed full of news and reports on my work in Westminster, details of the cost of living help we have made available so far and huge amounts of my activity in Winchester on our behalf.
As I have done for fourteen + years, it is a wholly positive publication. Compare and contrast is my challenge to constituents’ and you can download a copy at www.stevebrine.com/publications