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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: Brexit and a vaccine

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In his article this week, Crawley MP Henry Smith talks about Brexit and the new Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

As the UK entered the New Year it did so having finally delivered what Crawley and the country voted for in the Brexit referendum almost half a decade previously.

Last week I voted for the European Union (Future Relationship) Act which allows the British Government to implement and ratify the agreements secured between the UK and the EU.

With no role for the European Court of Justice and no requirements for the UK to continue to follow EU law, and no more payments of billions of pounds to Brussels, we fulfil one of the key aims of Brexit, which is to secure this country’s political and economic independence. This means, of course, that our laws are determined by elected politicians in the United Kingdom who are accountable to the British people.

Britain’s commitment to maintaining high labour, environment and climate standards now ensure we do not give the EU any say over our rules.

In areas such as the living wage, entitlements to sick pay, parental leave and annual leave, UK policy already goes further than EU requirements.

The Future Relationship Act represents the largest free trade agreement in history, not only allowing the UK full access to the EU but also the ability to strike trade deals globally, following recent agreements already signed with countries including Japan, Canada and Turkey.

Looking ahead to 2021; it is welcome that the start of the year has seen the roll-out of the UK-developed University of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination.

On Monday the NHS began administering over half a million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, with 100 million doses secured in total. This is part of a national vaccination programme alongside the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, which has already seen more people inoculated in the UK than the rest of Europe put together. Indeed Great Britain was first globally by several weeks in delivering COVID-19 vaccines to its citizens.

The Government’s plan to roll out vaccinations as swiftly as possible is well underway, with 1,000 vaccination sites up and running by the end of the week.

With this further welcome news on the vaccine we can see an end to the blight of Covid in sight. These are still challenging times but global Britain will deliver in 2021.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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