Thursday, 15 November 2012

West Briton Column 15 November 2012

Some people ask me, " Why is the government spending money on armed forces and defence rather than social services?" On Sunday I joined Penryn residents at the town’s remembrance service, where the Revd Ian Froom gave the best answer to that question that I have heard. During his sermon, to paraphrase, he said that the best social service a government can deliver is the protection of citizens. I agree. The defence of our freedom and values as a society are worth protecting. While trying to ensure peace in the world without recourse to conflict should always remain the top priority sometimes it is necessary to defend our country and way of life with armed force.

So even at these difficult times, I believe we do need to invest in our armed forces to make sure they are well trained, equipped and supported.

On Sunday we remembered our fellow countrymen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. We also reflected on the dreadful cost to humanity of war. At the services I joined across my constituency I was very pleased to see more young people participating from schools, cadet forces, the scouts and guides as well as the St John’s Ambulance. This seems to be a welcome trend of growing numbers each year, indicating that as the years go by, and generations pass, we will continue to remember them.

I know many of you will be concerned by the news that the Royal Cornwall Hospital is reviewing the work of one its former employees, an obstetrician and gynaecologist who treated a great number of local people over the years. I would encourage anyone with worries about treatment they received to contact the helpline specially set up by the Hospital on 0800 180 4514.

It is important to note that these concerns have only come to light due to the actions of other staff members at the Hospital, who came forward to report what they had seen. I commend the bravery of those staff members who came forward with their concerns, this can be a daunting thing to do. Last year I was contacted by people working for the SERCO after hour’s GP service who had concerns about the service’s ability to respond to people in need.

Thanks to the information supplied by these staff members I was able to refer the service to the Care Quality Commission who, following a full investigation, are now overseeing improvements to the after hour’s GP service.  In this instance, and at the RCHT, the flagging up of issues by staff is serving to drive up the standard of health care available to local people.

I feel that it is important that we recognise the beneficial impact of staff coming forward with concerns about patient care without fear of retribution. I am pleased that the Coalition Government has changed the NHS constitution so that all NHS organisations or those providing services for the NHS patients have a responsibility to fully support staff members who raise concerns.

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