Herald column February 8th 2018

Last week was a busy one for me both in Parliament and the constituency as my Private Member’s Bill finally came up for its second reading last Friday. My Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Death (Registration Etc.) Bill. And I am delighted to say that with Government support it passed its first hurdle and will now go into committee for further scrutiny.

As I have written before my Bill seeks to extend civil partnerships to opposite sex couples as well as same sex couples who have enjoyed that right since 2004; end the ridiculous anachronism since 1837 that mother’ names are not included on marriage certificates; gives coroners the power to investigate stillbirths which still happen far too often in the UK and look at a a way of acknowledging and registering those tragic stillbirths which happen before the current 24 week threshold.

There was widespread support from all sides of the Commons for my Bill with some particularly emotional speeches from female MPs who bravely recounted their own experiences of baby loss. This follows my campaign to ensure the state recognises babies still born before 24 weeks after I was approached by a constituent with a particularly tragic case of suffering stillbirth after series of miscarriages. This was one of the best informed and constructive debates I have been involved in for some time and showed the Commons at its best. There is a link to the full debate and details of my Bill on my latest constituency newsletter out this week.

The day before I joined the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt on a low key but morale boosting visit to Worthing Hospital, his third to date. He met around clinical 60 staff at the Education Centre and was there specifically to talk about his campaign to make the NHS the safest health service in the world and yet again he praised the Western Sussex Hospital Trust as one of the best he has come across for its learning culture and the impressive safety improvements that had resulted. Though I may be biased he gave an impressive talk without notes for almost an hour and took questions from all comers.

Jeremy Hunt has specifically referenced the incredible achievements at Worthing Hospital numerous times and he again paid tribute to the great job that staff at Worthing are doing. The figures speak for themselves:

  • Falls by patients at Worthing have been reduced by 33% since 2015

  • Delayed discharges have been reduced to 10 bed days lost as a result recently from 80 last year-an incredible achievement given the age profile of patients.

  • A record number of 5331 babies born across the 2 hospital sites; 136,804 people seen in A&E; 135792 in-patients treated; 585846 outpatients treated; 389388 scans and x-rays taken place over the last year.

Well done to all the staff at Worthing – we are really lucky to have such a fantastic hospital in your town.