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Henry Smith

Henry Smith MP: It was a happy 72nd Birthday for the NHS as hundreds more doctors & nurses come to the south east

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The weekend saw the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the National Health Service. Unquestionably an important date in the story of our country; the people who work in our health and care system are some of the very best our nation has to offer.

It is with this in mind that I welcome the news that there are over 820 more doctors and over 2,200 more nurses in the south east of England compared to last year, with some 6,000 more doctors and 12,000 more nurses nationally.

Whether you are one of these new members of staff, you have worked in the sector for some time previously, or if you are one of the healthcare professionals who returned as part of the response to COVID-19; we appreciate your dedication and we thank you.

It is right that NHS staff with COVID-19 symptoms are tested as a priority, with regular testing of asymptomatic staff in situations where there is an incident or outbreak, in addition to regular surveillance testing across staff. This approach has been decided by clinical experts, including the Chief Medical Officer; with the Government continuing to review clinical evidence to ensure that regular testing of staff without symptoms is undertaken where appropriate.

My thanks to Crawley and Sussex NHS staff for the briefings I have received on their work during the pandemic. Since March, Crawley Hospital has been upgraded with 28 extra beds that are now operational for patient care, with the number of 999/111 call staff locally being significantly increased.

Over £14 billion has been provided for the NHS and public services during the pandemic to increase critical care capacity, provide staff with the equipment they need, and to ensure those on the frontline are supported.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

Henry Smith

Henry Smith MP: NHS Scaremongering over trade bill is appalling

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This week the House of Commons voted on the Trade Bill. This legislation is a continuity Bill, and cannot be used to implement new free trade agreements.

Indeed, it is designed to enable those free trade agreements that the EU had signed with other countries before the UK left to be transitioned.

Our NHS is already protected by specific exceptions and reservations in these trade agreements. Some 20 continuity agreements have already been signed, retaining all of these protections for the NHS.

Sadly, but predictably, some have sought to frighten people with cynical fake news into believing those MPs, like me, who supported this Bill voted to sell our NHS to foreign companies, that is simply not the case. Such scare tactics when it comes to our NHS, especially during a global pandemic, are appalling and those involved in misinformation should be ashamed of themselves.

Anyway, international treaties cannot themselves amend domestic legislation and any changes required as a result of trade agreements would be subject to the separate scrutiny and approval of Parliament.

Some of the amendments to the Bill were laid with little other intention than to prompt parliamentary debate on a topic. Unfortunately, the scope of some amendments has been wilfully misinterpreted by some, as is often the case with opposition amendments.

The Government has made an absolute commitment that our NHS will not be on the table in any future trade agreements to which Britain is party.

This was clear in the manifesto which I, and every single other Conservative MP, was elected on at last December’s General Election.

Also earlier this week I met with the Health & Social Care Secretary where we discussed promising developments in securing a COVID-19 vaccine, support for cancer patients and an above inflation pay rise for National Health Service clinicians.

The facts are that record high levels of NHS investment are being made by this Government with some 6,000 extra doctors and 12,000 additional nurses recently recruited.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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