SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Experiences of real life

Sir Peter Bottomley
Sir Peter Bottomley

It is surprising when anyone idly suggests that members of parliament have little knowledge of events in the lives of ordinary people.

Our advice services bring us together with the hardest experiences suffered by constituents.

Additionally, with 650 MPs, it would be odd if some colleagues were unable to talk with personal knowledge of the low points in life.

This week the Health Secretary discussed how to continue to reduce the risks of child birth and how to learn lessons with the aim of cutting the numbers of still births.

His Commons statement was welcomed across the House.

Too many MPs were able to refer to their family tragedies, as well as to those of people they serve.

Across the country, clinicians want to be able to learn from the infrequent cases when things unnecessarily go wrong.

I pay tribute to the midwives and nurses, to the specialist doctors and their support colleagues who are achieving greater successes locally and nationally. In the years to come, we will benefit from greater progress. Sadness will be reduced.

At the gentle end of the scale, I was impressed by the NHS treatment I received from the GP who first assessed my recently acquired leg injury.

When working to achieve good conditions for medical practices in the constituency, I am driven by the knowledge that the nurses, doctors and their support teams should be able to concentrate on applying their skills, training and experience to the illness and conditions of patients, rather than putting effort into managing premises or battling with NHS systems imposed from outside.

I remain aware of the help I have had in my work at the level of NHS England given by good local hospital and GP doctors, together with the input from constituents with experience of particular conditions.

In the past days, Diana Johnson (Labour MP in Hull) and I have had two important meetings with the Cabinet Office and with Health Ministers about the treatment and the inquiry into the causes of the contaminated blood tragedy.

I first engaged with the Haemophilia Society on this nearly 30 years ago – those meetings had to be informal because I was still a government minister.

I know about the issues because a friend was one of the first to be infected with HIV and AIDS.

This Friday, I will have the red ribbon.

It is sad that bad things happened to people in all the categories affected by the viruses.

It is better that attitudes have generally changed for the better.

Where there is prejudice, I will confront it; when there is ignorance, I will work with others to bring knowledge; where there is injustice, I will stand with the weak.

My experiences of real life lead me to want to share the good things and to share the burdens cast sometimes haphazardly on others.