It was wrong to turn down health centre - Romford Recorder

Here is my regular column for the Romford Recorder:

Amidst the fast-changing situation in Westminster as MPs debate our withdrawal from the EU, one of the crucial tasks for me and my parliamentary team has been to ensure that political developments do not crowd out progress on the issues that matter most to constituents.

Recorder readers will know from my last two columns that much of our focus has been on police resourcing. I had a successful meeting with the Prime Minister and Home Secretary in this regard, and this week attended a policing summit with key stakeholders to make the local response to crime more effective. However, the quality of healthcare is something that I am regularly contacted about too, and I believe one of the keys to improving health outcomes locally will be to ensure we have excellent primary care facilities that reduce pressure on Queen’s A&E.

Since my election, I have been liaising with Havering Council and the NHS about the new health centre proposed for the St George’s Hospital site in Hornchurch. I believe such a centre could become a focal point for high-quality out-of-hospital care, with a broader range of services offered alongside strong links to local social care providers.

Last week, the Health Secretary launched our NHS Long Term Plan, a 10-year plan to enable people to live longer, healthier lives and get the most out of the extra £20.5 billion being injected into the NHS. The plan focuses on prevention and treating people out of hospital, so it was with huge disappointment that I greeted news that the £17 million St George’s bid was not successful. I think this is the wrong decision, and I am already pressing Ministers in parliament to reconsider. The St George’s site realised £43 million for NHS Property Services, and if local communities are to be convinced that they stand to benefit from the sale of NHS assets, they deserve to see investment back into local healthcare. I shall be campaigning vigorously to make the NHS think again.