Alistair Craig writes about action on cleaner hospitals

I spend a lot of time travelling around Greenwich and Woolwich, meeting people and listening to the things that matter to them. Often they just want someone to talk to but I always like to offer them answers as well.  Sometimes the problems are too big and there are no simple solutions. But more often than not there is something that can be done. It just requires a little less talk and a little more action.

Let me give you an example. One of the most common issues people raise is the state of our local hospital, the Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich. Ask a parent or pensioner in this borough and they will tell you about the great work our doctors and nurses are doing to look after people everyday.  But they will also tell you that their natural anxiety about going into hospital is made worse by concern about the rise of hospital superbugs such as MRSA.

Superbugs are not new, but not enough is being done to bring the problem under control. In fact the number of recorded cases of MRSA (just one type of hospital infection) has doubled in the seven years since Tony Blair promised to ‘save the NHS’. As usual, he has been all talk. He has promised to get this problem under control no fewer than 20 times, but 5,000 people still die every year from infections picked up in hospital - more than the number of people killed each year on Britain’s roads.

That’s why I welcome the Conservative Party’s commitment to take immediate action to get our hospitals clean.  Conservatives believe that NHS professionals, not politicians, should run our hospitals, so it’s important to support doctors and nurses in the fight against infections. We will abolish Whitehall targets which have sometimes led to dirty wards staying open when they should have been closed for cleaning. If nursing staff think a ward needs to be closed, it will be.

We will give patients the Right to Choose a clean hospital and make sure people have access to information about hospital infection rates so that they know which are the best and which are the worst. This will encourage hospitals to clean up their act.  And we will invest an extra £34 billion a year in the NHS by 2009-10 and ensure it gets to the areas where it’s needed most by cutting Labour’s fat bureaucracy.

The plan for action recently launched by the Conservative Party will begin to answer the concerns of people in Greenwich. This is one of those problems that can be solved. All it needs is some action and less talk.


Alistair Craig is the Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Greenwich and Woolwich