When I broke my leg at the beginning of January, I spent four days in the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, one of three hospitals managed by the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. The ‘Alex’ has not been out of the news for many months—for all the wrong reasons. Now I know there’s a lot in the media these days about the shortcomings of the NHS. One ‘failing’ hospital after another is brought into ‘special measures‘ (the situation with the Alex), the NHS is almost broke, the junior doctors are on strike. Also, there is a perception that this Conservative government aims to privatize our cherished NHS, step-by-step. In my earlier post I mentioned that the A&E department at the Alex had recently lost several of its consultants, and that the maternity unit had been closed (supposedly only a temporary measure) and its services transferred to Worcester.
However, the care I received during my brief stay was second-to-none. I tweeted about that, but also felt compelled to write to my Member of Parliament (for the Bromsgrove constituency), the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid (right), who sits in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. After all, positive outcomes need to be highlighted just as much as the negative (of which we hear all too frequently).
So I penned the following letter on 14 January, and sent it to him through his House of Commons web site:
Dear Mr Javid,
I have unfortunately had to avail of local NHS services in recent days, having slipped on black ice outside my home last Friday and severely dislocating and fracturing my right ankle.
I was rushed to the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, after a remarkably rapid response from the ambulance service, and spent three nights there following surgery on Saturday night.
At a time when the NHS is under ‘assault’ from all quarters, including, I’m afraid to say, the Government of which you are a member, as well as the continual bad press that the ‘Alex’ seems to attract, I believe it’s opportune to celebrate what is great and worthy about the NHS and those dedicated doctors, nurses and support staff who are its backbone.
From the moment of my arrival in A&E, admission and stay on Ward 17 (Trauma and Orthopaedic), and visit to theatre, I have nothing but the highest praise for all the staff, who looked after me with dedication and compassion, and a good degree of good humour. Although their morale has recently taken somewhat of a battering, this did not affect their sense of professional pride in offering the best care possible.
And lying there on the ward, another thing struck me. At least 50% of the staff, possibly more, were immigrants, both EU and non-EU, and of all faiths. Indeed, I believe that the particular speciality where I was being cared for would not be able to operate were it not for the support of our immigrant friends and colleagues.
Mr Farage and his moronic UKIP followers, and those on the right of your party, have been permitted to hijack the immigration (and EU) debate with the result that those from outside the UK who come here to make our country a better place, are demonised. Surely as the son of immigrant parents this is a perspective you should be fighting tooth and nail to reverse.
I spent much of my career working overseas with scientists and support staff from all around the world. I celebrate this cultural, ethnic and religious diversity. I deplore deeply that our society, famed for its broad mindedness and tolerance is being dragged in a direction that undermines these core values.
I deplore that this Conservative government does not appear to have the stomach to take on the immigration bigots.
And there I left it. Last weekend, Mr. Javid organized a job fair in Bromsgrove and there was a lot of publicity in the local press. It was that which reminded me I’d not received any reply from my MP. I thought (incorrectly, as it turned out) that he and his staff had chosen to ignore my comments.
However, this envelope dropped through my mailbox yesterday afternoon.
If you click on the image below you can read the full reply from Mr. Javid. It’s a courteous and explanatory letter, and (to a certain extent) agrees with the points I raised. He does duck the immigration issue since I guess he can’t deviate from the government line.
Nevertheless, I am pleased to see that someone in his office did take time to address the issues I raised. While my politics (such as they are) do not align with this Conservative administration, I do acknowledge that Sajid Javid has a high and prominent profile in the constituency, and appears to be a good constituency MP. Which is saying something considering the ministerial responsibilities that he has to balance as well.