We need to look outside the box if we are to tackle the problems facing the NHS and the health issues we face more widely today as a society. It is for that reason that the Health Select Committee needs an open and independently-minded Chair who can put aside the dogma that has held back the health agenda in this country, and seek innovative solutions.
Throughout my 28 years in Parliament I have been a dedicated campaigner on health issues, advocating greater patient choice and better integration of services within the NHS. With the ongoing NHS funding issues and the recent restructuring we need more patient-centred care, more efficient use of scarce NHS resources, and measures to tackle the blight of chronic and long term conditions to reduce the burden on an already overstretched NHS. Many themes which I have raised over the years, such as the need for greater emphasis on prevention and reducing the demand for NHS services, are now becoming mainstream Government policy.
Personalisation in healthcare is now an accepted part of policy. However, when I was first elected as an MP, it was only complementary therapies that provided that holistic, patient-centred care. Over the years that has not changed, but now mainstream health is catching up. Across the world in some of the largest populated countries like India and China patients are routinely treated with therapies like homeopathy, herbal medicine and acupuncture alongside orthodox Western medicine. This provides a more rounded treatment plan and brings about better patient outcomes in combining the best of what both philosophies have to offer. Some people think that all complementary therapies should be available on the NHS, some people think none should, and some believe, as I do, that we need to determine what works for what conditions and provide those treatments for patients. We cannot get bogged down with demands for randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence, as some do. It is hypocrisy by many who demand it, as much of conventional medicine that is routinely used in the NHS does not have the RCT evidence that is demanded of complementary therapies, which are less invasive with far less side-effects. We live in a real-world where real world patient experience and outcomes must play a part.
Patients are usually more open-minded than many of the doctors who treat them, and we must work to ensure that patients really do have information and choice in our Health Service rather than being given choice, as long as it's one of the options their doctor or CCG allows them to choose. Personal Health Budgets are one such development in the right direction, but much more needs to be done, and we need to take account of the fact that increasingly patients are going online to find their own health solutions.
The last Committee held accountability hearings with the Care Quality Commission, the General Dental Council and General Medical Council amongst others. It is vital that the Committee continues to scrutinise and hold to account such bodies, whilst at the same time looking into issues such as End of Life Care and Diet and Health, as it did in the last Parliament, to seek to put forward innovative solutions to key health challenges. Successive Governments have protected or increased the NHS budget in real terms, yet we face more long term, chronic life-style related diseases that ever before. We cannot continue like this, and the Health Committee can and does play a key role in addressing these problems, but it must do so with an open mind.
The reason that I am putting myself forward for the position of Chair of the Health Committee is because I believe that the Committee needs an experienced and independently-minded Chair - I have chaired Select Committees before - who will listen to Parliamentary colleagues, hold the Government to account, work effectively on a cross-party basis, and not be afraid to tackle the important health issues we face.
David Tredinnick is the MP for Bosworth, and is running to be Chair of the Health Select Committee