The process by the Government to remove Boris Johnson as their Prime Minister is involving several stages for Conservative MPs and in due course the political members. At the end of the current Government period on Thursday there will be several weeks for the party members to choose who will replace Johnson by early September. No doubt the voting will involve many Sussex people and given their involvement three years ago, let us hope that they will be more successful this year. They could participate other local people? In the meantime there have been some changes amongst our Sussex MPs. Mims Davies was the only Minister who resigned prior to the resignation of Johnson and she is no longer the Minister for Employment at the Department for Work and Pensions and she has not taken a new role. However, since then her contributions in Parliament have become much more flexible than when she was a Minister. Gillian Keegan and Jeremy Quin have remained as the Care at the Department of Health and Social Care and the Minister for Defence Procurement. Apart from Maria Caulfield no other Sussex MPs have taken on a new Minister role during the temporary control of Johnson. In the case of Maria Caulfield her previous role was as Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care that was changed for her on 7th July. Her old role has now been taken over by James Morris MP. Her new role is Minister for Health and Social Care which was previously held by Edward Argar. A few days after her role was changed, Caulfield was involved in a debate last Wednesday. The headline was Ambulance Services and National Heatwave Emergency. Caulfield responded to a significant number of questions although sadly there were no Sussex MPs that took part in the discussion so it did not include a focus on the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb). However, one of my friends who used to be a senior person in SECAmb responded to the debate when it emerged in social media by the new Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton and Honiton. Richard Foord was the first non-Conservative MP in that constituency which has been in existence since 1997. Interestingly Foord only arrived in Parliament on 27th June and yet he has spoken five times in the House of Commons and three of his comments involved Ambulances. His latest comment was a reaction to one of the statements that Maria Caulfield made last Wednesday. The comment from Maria Caulfield was a response to Margaret Greenwood MP who is the Labour MP for Wirral West. The comment by Greenwood included these opening words.
This is a situation that my constituents are desperately worried about. We know that ambulance waiting times were not being met before the pandemic, so this problem has a long background to it, as the Minister knows. We also know that there has been a crisis in A&E waiting times, and in my own hospital of Arrowe Park—a hospital in my constituency—in May this year, almost half of patients had to wait more than four hours.
As it happens, I was born in Merseyside and I had some relatives who lived in Wirral near the Arrowe Park Hospital. I am also aware that in Sussex and indeed across the UK, there have been significant delays for people needing Ambulances. Greenwood added these words
the Government have known about it, and that one senior leader in the north of the country who does not want to be named has described the situation as “dire” for staff and patients, can the Minister tell us what the Government are going to do as a matter of urgency to sort it?
So Maria Caulfield responded with
There are two aspects to that question. In terms of urgency, we have procured a contract with a total value of £30 million for an auxiliary ambulance service, which will provide national surge capacity if needed to support the ambulance response during periods of increased pressure. That capacity is there, should we need it.
The social media comment by Richard Foord was
Maria Caulfield claimed in Parliament that a contract is in place for “surge capacity” to reduce waiting times. Yet @HSJnews says this is not true. So this evening I called on the Minister to come clean on what’s actually going on.
Let us hope that Maria Caulfield will reflect on her statement. The Health Service Journal that Foord stated in his twitter included the statement
A health minister incorrectly told the Commons yesterday a contract was in place for providing surge capacity for ambulance services, despite the contract not having been awarded yet
We clearly need the Department which Caulfield and Keegan are involved in to deal with the Ambulance provision very significantly.