TIM LOUGHTON: Experiencing emergency services at first hand

Tim Loughton
Tim Loughton

When it comes to the emergency services I always seem to have something of a calming effect.

Last week I joined one of our excellent local ambulance crews for an evening shift.

We had a busy time as you would expect dealing with a suspected stroke, a woman with pregnancy problems and the inevitable false alarm to sheltered accommodation where an elderly resident had triggered her red button alarm in her sleep.

Yet, as usual when I go out on patrol with the police or other emergency services, I was told I should have been here last week when it really kicked off.

That is all part and parcel of what is a very unpredictable and often stressful job.

Yet the paramedic and technician I joined were calm, professional and good humoured and a credit to the service.

It was interesting to hear at first hand their views about why South East Coast Ambulance Service had gotten itself into such a mess and what could be done to attract and, crucially, retain more recruits.

I had the opportunity to look at the new ophthalmology unit at Southlands Hospital this week when it was officially opened by the Countess of Wessex.

This is a state-of-the-art facility, further enhancing the services offered by our outstanding rated hospital trust. While it is disappointing that the old Harness block at Southlands was no longer fit for purpose and could not be adapted for community bed use, this is an excellent use of the site.

It is also a major investment as the new build cost more than was raised from the sale of the land for housing.

More space has been freed up for beds at the Worthing site where all the inpatient facilities are now concentrated.

It is hard to imagine now that the last government tried to downgrade the whole hospital trust where, rather than expanding, we would have lost A&E, maternity, paediatrics and other well used services. Thank goodness for the KWASH campaign and local people power.

In Parliament last week I raised the subject of grandparent’s rights to see their grandchildren after an acrimonious divorce by the parents.

All MPs have heard desperate stories of loving relations being frozen out of any contact with children at precisely the time when the continuity and anchor that they can provide is much needed when parents spit up badly.

This is something I tried to change as Children’s Minister by changing the Children’s Act to include a presumption that grandparents would have access to grandchildren unless, and only unless, it could be shown it would be harmful.

I ran out of time but the problem has certainly not gone away and it is good it is back on the Government’s radar now.

If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at loughtont@parliament.uk

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