By Matt Vickers MP.
Times are tough. MPs from all parties would acknowledge that their casework in boxes are predominantly filling up with examples of hardworking constituents seeking assurances on the cost-of-living crisis and their local NHS services.
Whilst I am under no illusion that there is much work to be done on both of these integral issues, it isn’t all doom and gloom, significant progress is being made in the background.
“It isn’t all doom and gloom, significant progress is being made in the background.”
Specifically, regarding bolstering NHS services, the Government’s plans to open 160 diagnostic hospitals across the country by 2025, they have also announced that there will be four more community diagnostic hospitals (on top of the 73 that are open already). Crucially, these hospitals will be able to deliver additional CT, MRI, ultrasound, endoscopy, and ultrasound tests to help tackle the NHS backlog.
I am delighted to announce that one of these diagnostic hospitals is set to be open in Stockton, providing an easily accessible facility to the people of Stockton to help tackle the NHS backlog and address the vast life expectancy inequalities across our borough.
Every time I look at my casework inbox, I am reminded of just the huge difference this facility can make to our area. By getting people access to tests and checks and catching illnesses early, we can save many lives. Put simply, we are going to be able to get more and more people through the door, delivering more than 100,000 tests a year.
Furthermore, this represents one of the biggest investments in Stockton’s healthcare in a generation and having had many meetings and discussions on the subject with the NHS, ministers, and the council I’m delighted to see us secure this facility.
Announcements such as this do sometimes go under the radar in the media but ultimately it is these local improvements to services that matter to people, their true priorities. As I have already said, these priorities will undoubtedly be reflected in the in-tray of Conservative and Labour MPs alike, but the paper-thin policies from the Labour Party in response speaks volumes. Labour still don’t get it.
“As I have already said, these priorities will undoubtedly be reflected in the in-tray of Conservative and Labour MPs alike, but the paper-thin policies from the Labour Party in response speaks volumes. Labour still don’t get it.”
For example, in the same month, the Government announced these new diagnostic hospitals, Labour took to the airways to mull over a proposed nanny state ban on smoking. A policy that simply felt like it was being made up on the spot. Even on its own terms it didn’t stand up to scrutiny. Improving access and awareness of less harmful alternatives like vaping and heated tobacco, alongside support for those who wish to quit altogether, is how you solve a public health issue like smoking, not through more nanny-statism.
Did a poorly thought through and controversial health policy like this get more media interest than the plans for new diagnostic hospitals?
Of course, but that doesn’t make it right and it certainly doesn’t mean it aligns with the peoples’ priorities. Instead, at times of hardship for our constituents, it is imperative MPs keep banging the drum for incremental local improvements.
To keep Labour out of power we must never lose sight of these key issues, even if they don’t always get to bask in the media sun.
Matt Vickers is a British politician serving as the member of Parliament for Stockton South since 2019. Vickers was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in July 2022, serving alongside Nickie Aiken, Lee Anderson, and Luke Hall since 2023.
Photo credit: UK Gov – Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence