Our NHS is part of what makes us all proud to be British, and we must value and protect it – healthcare which is free at the point of use, and paid for by us all through taxes, is at the centre of any journey to a more equal society. Therefore, the fact that recent years of Conservative Government have slashed away at NHS budgets, prevented visas for nurses and doctors coming from other countries, and cut preventative services which help keep us all healthy, is a national cause of shame.
I’ve been standing up for our hospitals, doctors, nurses and NHS practices since before I was elected, and have always focused on keeping our NHS public. I strongly opposed the proposed UnitingCare Partnership in Cambridge, and led a debate on it in Parliament.
I campaigned to stop the visa cap for nurses and doctors coming from overseas, while so many wards and practices have staff vacancies and are extremely stretched. I pressed Conservative Ministers on this repeatedly, and was glad when the rules were changed following the campaign. I fear that as our relationship with the European Union is renegotiated, it’s possible that we will lose out on the talented medical staff that we are used to coming over to work in the UK from Europe.
I have worked with the Royal College of Nursing, campaigning with them to urge the Government to bring back the nursing bursary and properly fund nursing education. It seems outrageous that while nursing students train in NHS hospitals, often massively contributing to our healthcare, especially at times of extreme staff shortages, they have to pay for the privilege and are given such limited support.
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Life Sciences, I have been active in scrutinising the Government as they tackle access to medicines and clinical trials throughout the Brexit discussions. I have also stood up for the life sciences sector and the research and development of new medicines in and around Cambridge – we need an immigration policy which allows up to attract the top talent, and retain the brilliant researchers we have from all over the world, not the small-minded numbers-focused approach that the Conservatives currently are taking. You can read more about this here.
I am also Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health, a really important issue to me, and many of us in Cambridge. I have worked with cross-party colleagues in Parliament on our report into mental health services in the UK, and have consistently called for better provision, particularly for young people, students, and in preventative and support services. I have also called for better access to healthcare and mental healthcare for autistic people and people with learning disabilities through more training for healthcare professionals, and led a debate on this in Parliament.