I would bring experience and credibility as chair of the Health and Social Care Committee
We’re all known for one thing during our time in Parliament. For me, it’s health and I think I have a strong record on the subject – in government and on the backbenches – working collegiately and respectfully with MPs from every party.
After more than 12 years in the House – during which time I’ve served as PPS to the health secretary, a government whip and of course public health minister – I’m putting my name forward to chair the important Health and Social Care Select Committee.
The Covid backlog is seriously impacting people's quality of life, while the social care conundrum continues to gum up the entire system
Whatever side of the House we occupy, I think Therese Coffey was right to diagnose her “ABCD” of problems to address. Ambulance care, in some areas of the country, is clearly falling way short. The Covid backlog is seriously impacting people's quality of life (keeping some out of the workforce when we need them most) while the social care conundrum continues to gum up the entire system. Too many promises on this, from all parties, have failed to materialise so we need to come together.
And we all have too much casework from constituents unable to access a GP when they need one, let alone a dentist. I would add “M” for mental health to that list where, right now, we’re failing young people in particular. Ministers must deliver on all of this and the select committee under my leadership will be a powerful force in driving delivery from whichever team sits at DHSC or within NHSE.
Bottom line, we have the fifth largest spending on health in the OECD, but we don’t end up fifth in terms of results. We need to understand why and press ministers to get better value for the vast sums we spend on health.
I have my own priorities in this policy area.
Prevention: I remain passionate about preventative healthcare which I believe is absolutely the right approach to the NHS and leads us to many of the issues around health inequalities which concern us all.
Cancer: We should all be worried about the figures (post lockdown in particular) and be pressing for the promised cancer plan to emerge as soon as possible. For many reasons, this agenda matters to me more than most.
Workforce: The Achilles heel of the service for so long, we need to work with the Treasury to finally deliver that independent health workforce assessment because none of the above works without one.
International health: I held part of the overseas development budget with great care during my time in government, whether it be my work with HIV/AIDS (I now co-chair the APPG) or other reproductive/women’s health issues in the developing world, I have kept my interest in this important area.
A good select committee chair works cross-party with his/her committee members scrutinising ministers on their plans as much as it sets the agenda. I will not forget that.
I have served in government as a health minister but, crucially, have now been out of the department for a few years since. Personally, I do think there is an issue around the hard-fought reputation of our select committee system with MPs being ministers one week and scrutinising their own decisions the next.
During Covid I worked closely with ministers and opposition providing robust scrutiny from the backbenches when question and challenge of health ministers was more important than ever.
I hope I can bring experience, credibility, and strength to the role of Health & Social Care Select Committee Chair. I hope to have your support.
Steve Brine is the Conservative MP for Winchester.
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