SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Anniversaries to note, some to celebrate

Sir Peter Bottomley
Sir Peter Bottomley

Fifty years have passed since the 1967 Abortion Act. I am sad that we collectively and individually have not learnt how to live our lives together more sensibly.

Society is more open, sexual relations are no longer expected to be politely contained within marriage, contraception is not difficult and we know that around 40 per cent of people, not just hyperactive younger people, are at some time in life involved in a conception that ends in a termination.

I would have voted for the Act; I now work to reduce the numbers who need to use its provisions.

It is neither seemly nor effective for a Member of Parliament to tell others how to conduct relationships.

Let us all unite to remake the obvious point that acting in advance on fertility control and on conception choice is preferable to pretending the issues are family planning or birth control.

More cheerfully, I turn to our hospitals.

Ten years ago, we were united in fighting the assumption in the so-called Fit for the Future consultation that Worthing hospital or St Richard’s in Chichester should lose A&E or maternity, or even possibly be closed.

The successful outcome was the sensible proposal to combine those hospitals with Southlands in what became the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in July 2013 as a single NHS organisation, led by Marianne Griffiths.

The three hospitals together deliver excellent, safe and sustainable health services for local people.

They would not claim everything is always perfect; I would claim that everyone involved has contributed to achieve the rare rating of outstanding.

We note that nearly every general practice is rated good or outstanding too.

Each of us is familiar with our own experience and we see the care received by a friend or family.

I admired the care given to a friend in Rustington’s Zachary Merton hospital.

We should know the scale. In the past seven years the number of operations in our hospitals is up by 34 per cent; diagnostic testing is up 63 per cent: the support staff and the clinicians have our backing and our appreciation.

The NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group CCG has improved access to psychological therapies.

I have been told that the percentage seen within six weeks is 99 per cent, ahead of the 75 per cent national target and the 88 per cent national average.

Numbers represent people and also the resources to help others.

I praise those who will use the five per cent extra, taking the CCG funding over £700million.

Additionally, West Sussex County Council could receive £25million of the extra social care funding.

That seems a low share. With MP colleagues, I can ask why and whether it is fair.

Turning abroad, thirty years ago I visited Namibia – then South West Africa ruled by South Africa – meeting SWAPO members while being told part of the truth by the rulers.

Ten years later, I returned to discuss parliamentary procedure after independence had been achieved in 1990.

This week, during the brief Commons recess, I shall be leading the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation to share discussions on how a national assembly can best serve the people, returning overnight at the weekend to join the Worthing Remembrance Service and the laying of wreaths at East Preston and at Kingston.

The anniversary of peace matters; so does our thanks for the lives of those who die on active service.

The Namibian emblem includes the words unity, liberty and justice. They can become global.