5 Viscount Hailsham debates involving the Department of Health and Social Care

Urgent and Emergency Care

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Tuesday 6th September 2022

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, would my noble friend agree that the problems in the ambulance service are essentially reflective of the problems in the National Health Service more generally? Would he also agree that there is a widespread feeling that the National Health Service as presently constituted is no longer fit for purpose? Given that, and bearing in mind that proposals coming from individual parties or Governments are unlikely to command general consent, has the time not come for the Government to appoint a royal commission to consider how best health services in this country should be provided and funded? Such a way forward might provide the basis for a proper, agreed change.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for his question. We have a debate this week tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Patel, on reform of the health system. One thing the noble Lord believes, as do a number of other practitioners and noble Lords who have worked in the health service, is that it is time to reform the old model of seeing your GP, getting five or 10 minutes if you are lucky, and then being referred to secondary care elsewhere. In this day and age, we need such reform. We need to take advantage of data and new technology but also to look at work processes. Some of the stuff that was being done in secondary care until recently can now be done at primary care level. Even in primary care, it does not always have to be the doctor who sees the patient; it can be a practice nurse, a physiotherapist or a local civil society group.

Clearly, there is a need to look at the model of the NHS and how services are provided; all parties recognise that there are areas for reform. It would be great if we could get consensus but, sadly, this issue is too much of a political football. When I speak with my friends from other parties, we say candidly that something has to change and that there has to be reform, but it is clearly too tempting to bash any Government. I know that, when we were in opposition, we would have bashed the Government of the day on health. It is, sadly, too tempting a political football.

NHS: Pre-pandemic Facility Levels

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Tuesday 29th March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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The noble Lord makes some really good suggestions. On technology, one of the things we are looking at is why, in this day and age, when you can book appointments online for most other meetings, you cannot for GP practices. We want to make sure that people can book online, by telephone, and in advance—rather than having to phone at 8 am —and also let them choose between different places. We have to look at all these options, but, at the same time, technology is not enough: we also have to change the work processes to match the changes in technology.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, a problem that I have encountered in Lincolnshire is that when one tries to get a telephone appointment with the GP, one is offered a point in a spectrum of a number of hours. One simply cannot sit at one’s desk waiting for a call back within a spectrum of a number of hours.

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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That is exactly why, as technology has improved, you should be able to book a specific time. In fact, in some practices, it has gone backwards since the 1970s. When I was a child, my mother was able to phone up and ask, “Can my son have an appointment on Tuesday next week?” These days, you have to phone at 8 am hoping to get in the queue to book an appointment. Technology should improve that, and we hope that once we are able to recover, we will be able to use technology to book in advance.

Covid-19 Update

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Monday 29th November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness for raising that important point. We have made the point that it is not over, but one thing that we have seen, sadly, with the uptake of the booster vaccine is that a number of people felt that because they had had the first and second doses, they could almost return to normal. Maybe we could have been stronger with the message that it is not over, but we continue to say that we should be ever vigilant. The important point is that, if you have not had the booster, we ask you to come forward, just as we ask all those who have not had their first or second vaccine to come forward. We are trying to work with all those in different communities to make sure that they come forward. We are, for example, working with interfaith communities and local groups.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, I welcome the Statement, but may I express the hope that the requirement to wear masks in shops and on public transport is not relaxed prematurely? Is there not a case for continuing those requirements while the pandemic is prevalent?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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My noble friend will be aware of the constant debate that there has been in the public sphere about the effectiveness of masks, when they are effective and who is affected. Therefore, we have always followed scientific advice on the wearing of masks and where would be most appropriate. We know that many noble Lords and others have called on us literally not to let the masks slip, as it were, and to make sure that people continue to wear masks. There have been others, however, asking why people still need to wear masks. We have always been vigilant, and the fact that we now have this new variant means we are taking a precautionary approach. We will continue to review it and it could well be that, in three weeks’ time, we will see how dangerous it has been and how effective mask wearing has been in the places that we have specified.

Nurses: Training

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Wednesday 7th March 2018

(6 years, 4 months ago)

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, as someone who is frequently involved in regulatory work involving nurses, I ask my noble friend what is being done to ensure a proper standard of clinical performance and a proficiency in languages on the part of nurses trained abroad and, most especially, on the part of those trained outside the European Union.

Lord O'Shaughnessy Portrait Lord O'Shaughnessy
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I thank my noble friend for highlighting that important issue. A very stringent language test is imposed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council—indeed, it is perhaps so stringent that it has excluded some nurses who are perfectly capable of practising in this country. A review of that is going on at the moment to make sure that a proper line is drawn—ensuring professional competence, including in technical language, while not excluding people who would be perfectly capable of practising well in this country.

Junior Doctors: Industrial Action

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Monday 5th September 2016

(7 years, 10 months ago)

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, my noble friend should take every opportunity to remind the electorate and the public who will be affected by these strikes that junior doctors are now refusing to accept and proposing to strike against an agreement that many of their leadership, including those now defending the strike, characterised as safe and fair. That is an absurd proposition.

Lord Prior of Brampton Portrait Lord Prior of Brampton
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My Lords, it is important that we distinguish between junior doctors, who are working incredibly hard in the NHS, and the BMA leadership in this case. I think the vast majority of junior doctors bitterly regret having to go on strike and will be extremely concerned about the huge damage it will do to patients’ interests. We are perfectly entitled to remind everybody that it was the leadership of the BMA who characterised this contract as being safe for patients and good for doctors.