Since September last year, the Public Accounts Committee has taken evidence from HM Revenues and Customs on a number of subjects including online VAT fraud and error, Brexit and the future of customs and the borders, and HMRC’s performance in 2016-17. Last week, the Committee recalled senior officials from HMRC to scrutinise their progress and hold them to account on implementing recommendations made to them in these previous sessions.
The regulation of Physician Associates is the subject of the Private Members Bill I am bringing through Parliament. The Bill is due for its second reading in October this year. PAs are a growing profession within the NHS and are key for the future sustainability of its workforce. PAs are medically trained, generalist healthcare professionals, who work alongside and support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients. They work across all of the health service; in GP surgeries, hospitals, accident and emergency departments, and surgical wards.
I met with PAs, Lauren Rottman and James Catton, this week from West Suffolk Hospital to discuss their role and the need for regulation. It is a critical time for regulation of this profession to come through. There are a predicted 3,000 PAs who will be going into practice by 2020 from Universities across the country. Attaining regulation will ensure protection for patients, uphold standards of practice, and allow greater responsibilities, such as the ability to prescribe and request x-rays or CT scans for patients.
Last week, I also met with Rob Behrens, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, to discuss his latest report ‘Maintaining momentum: driving improvements in mental health and care’. The report highlights failings in NHS mental healthcare services, and the devastating human impact on patients and their families. I took the opportunity to discuss with Rob the healthcare challenges facing rural areas like ours, particularly relating to mental health care provision.
I was disappointed to be told that there are plans to potentially close Teignmouth Hospital. This was not the outlined plan when the NHS consulted on the issue in 2014/15 and assurances were given that the bed provision at Teignmouth Hospital would be retained.
Whilst I welcome the news that the three GP surgeries are planning to merge, and also incorporate the voluntary sector under one roof, I do not believe that this should necessitate the closure of the Hospital. I am arranging to meet all those involved in the consultation and decision-making process to understand precisely what has happened since the previous consultation was undertaken, and to ask why such a radical change of position is now being considered.
I am committed to ensuring we get the best possible health and care services for constituents and increasing what is available to the local community. The local community has supported and used the facility for generations and large sums of money have been raised by local organisations to make the hospital the best it can be. We must also ensure that the contributions made to the hospital over its many years are respected and recognised.
The focus last week was very much on health and social care as I also met with Andrea Sutcliffe, the Care Quality Commission’s Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care. We discussed workforce issues relating to turnover and recruitment, and the new assessment framework for health and social care. We agreed that health and social care is not delivered in a joined-up way and that the differing needs of rural and urban areas in care need to be recognised and addressed. Looking to the future of adult social provision, we discussed the need for sustainable funding - which the Government is rightly looking at in its upcoming Green Paper - but also the importance of looking at the quality of services.
My next surgeries will be in Newton Abbot on Thursday 17th May at 1pm and Friday 25th May 2pm. Please call 01626368277 to arrange an appointment.