Harborough MP 'honoured' to be appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care

Neil O'Brien MPNeil O'Brien MP
Neil O'Brien MP
He told the Mail he is ‘under no illusions’ of the challenge ahead of him.

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien says he is ‘honoured’ to be appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care.

Since taking on the new role, the local MP has been meeting carers and hospital staff, listening to concerns.

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He told the Mail he is ‘under no illusions’ of the challenge ahead of him, particularly following the pandemic.

Mr O’Brien said: “Over the last few years, doctors, nurses and care workers worked incredibly hard in difficult and sometimes harrowing situations. They rose to the challenge admirably as Covid-19 pushed our system to its very limits, including here in Harborough.

“Thanks to their efforts, and all those others who helped deliver the incredible vaccine rollout, our sense of normality has grown as this year has gone on. But with such strain placed on our NHS and care system, we must acknowledge there are some backlogs and issues we need to address.”

The Department of Health and Social Care recently published its plan for patients which looks at addressing issues with ambulances, operation backlog, care and access to doctors and dentists.

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Among it is an extra £500m for adult social care which is set to be distributed this winter, recruiting extra emergency service call handlers and investing in local hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Mr O’Brien told the Mail: “I know from emails from constituents of the need for measures to drive improvements in all these areas.

“I know many constituents expressed concerns about accessing GP appointments, so I was pleased to see this at the heart of the new plan.

“We will change doctor’s pension arrangements to allow experienced doctors to work more without facing financial penalties, and make it easy for retired clinicians to return. This is something I have been contacted on by local doctors within my constituency and fully support.

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“In addition to bolstering same day appointments for urgent issues, we will also improve access for routine appointments to ensure they are available within two weeks. Many constituents have expressed frustration getting through to their GP, so the plan will invest in modernising the process of booking appointments at GP surgeries. We will invest in new booking technology and 31,000 extra phone lines – we need to stop people having to wait in long phone queues just to book an appointment.”

The MP also revealed access to NHS dentists will be a focus, after this paper revealed many residents had not seen a dentist in two years and no dentists will take on a patient unless they are referred.

Mr O’Brien added: “Access to NHS dentistry will also be reviewed to ensure we have a contract that works for dentists and patients alike, so that everyone can access NHS dental services across the country.”

He also thanked local healthcare staff for their hard work. The MP said: “I want to finish by paying tribute to our health and care staff across Harborough, for everything they have done to look after and treat people over recent years. I know it’s been an exceptionally difficult and challenging period. Together we will continue the essential work of restoring services and busting the backlogs caused by the virus.”