I can hardly believe we have reached the end of 2016 already. Since becoming the Member of Parliament for Witney, my diary has been jam-packed with events both in Westminster and here in West Oxfordshire.
One issue dominating my postbag has been local health services, particularly the proposed closure of Deer Park, and concerns surrounding Chipping Norton Community Hospital and the Horton General. That is why I have made healthcare my top priority since my election.
I met with the Deer Park Patient Participation Group, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Virgin Healthcare to discuss the proposed closure of Deer Park in my first few weeks in Parliament. I wanted to understand the situation in real detail and to encourage everyone to work together to find a solution that works for patients.
I have discussed the issue exhaustively with all parties, urging them to reopen a dialogue and making my view of the importance of this surgery plain. It is critical that the right outcome is found for patients and I will continue to fight for them. That is why I escalated this to the Minister, David Mowat, meeting with him to ensure that the issue is fully investigated.
I have also had a number of meetings with the OCCG and other Oxfordshire MPs to discuss the upcoming Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) which will decide the future of Oxfordshire's healthcare economy. I have been very clearly against the splitting of the consultation process, which I feel would not enable the public to look at the whole impact of the proposals. I have escalated this all the way to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, meeting with him to discuss the consequences of this proposal and to make my concerns crystal clear.
In addition, I have also discussed specific constituency cases directly with other Ministers in the Department of Health, lobbying on behalf of individuals, and understanding what can be done to improve services for those most in need.
Nothing is more important than health, for you and your loved ones. Services must be up to scratch to cater for everyone in West Oxfordshire – now and in future as this area develops. I will continue to fight hard to ensure that healthcare in this constituency is the best it can possibly be.
On a lighter note, I am excited to be celebrating my first Christmas as an MP – switching on many Christmas lights all over the constituency! I will also be celebrating my first Christmas as a dad, with my baby son Henry and wife Kathryn. I am looking forward to spending a little time with my family – here in West Oxfordshire, away from the hubbub of Westminster – reflecting back on 2016 and looking to the year ahead in which I will be working hard, driving the interests of West Oxfordshire forward at every opportunity.
I would like to wish all readers of the Witney Gazette a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Published 28.12.16 in the Witney Gazette.