Herald Column: July 9

Thank you to all those who restrained themselves at the weekend and didn’t celebrate having their locks chopped and the pubs reopening by going off on a complete bender. I certainly marked my first haircut in over 5 months with a quiet pint of much missed Harvey’s Best.

The police were well prepared but reported a relatively quiet weekend locally with the highlight being a group of 300 members of a London church congregating on Lancing Beach for a mass baptism. I am not sure whether it was the kite surfing or the Lagoon wildlife that tempted them to travel all the way down here to ignore social distancing, but they apparently did not put up too much of a resistance when dispersed by the police.

Having clapped in celebration of the 72nd birthday of the NHS on Sunday there is something more practical we can do to recognise the brilliance and dedication not only of the staff at Worthing Hospital but the wider staff from amongst the 1.3 million-strong army of NHS workers. I am delighted to announce that nominations for the ‘NHS Parliamentary Awards’ are now open, and they will hold particular significance this year given the COVID19 pandemic. This is a national scheme with 10 different categorise and nominations made through me in past years have made it to the shortlist. You can find more details on my Facebook page.

More good news from Worthing Hospital where the Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation Trust this week announced plans for a merger with the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals which would mean acquiring an academic status as well. Worthing have effectively been managing the Royal Sussex Hospital back to health for the last couple of years under the brilliant direction of Dame Marianne Griffith and this seems a natural next step to make sure all our surrounding hospitals come up to the ‘outstanding’ status we are fortunate to enjoy in West Sussex.

Worthing Hospital has also announced plans to create a new purpose-built 20 bed respiratory ward in the East Wing of Worthing hospital. This will no doubt make the hospital even better prepared to deal with any second wave of Coronavirus cases despite the relatively low incidence in West Sussex so far.

I am particularly pleased and proud that the Commons passed the much awaited but very important and well supported Domestic Abuse Bill this week. Given the rise in the incidence of domestic abuse and linked child protection cases during lockdown it is essential that we have a robust piece of legislation to deal with the perpetrators and support the victims. I am particularly pleased that the government have now included children in the legislation as potential victims of domestic abuse as I have been lobbying for. In at least 75% of child safeguarding cases it is estimated that domestic abuse is also at work and it is right that we recognise that children can often be the silent victims with long term consequences and need practical support too. A good piece of legislation with cross party cooperation which showed Parliament at its best.