Peterborough MP Paul Bristow calls for ‘new future’ for city hospital in maiden speech
Peterborough’s new MP has called for a “new future and direction” for the city hospital in his maiden speech.
Conservative Paul Bristow was elected in December after defeating Labour incumbent Lisa Forbes by 2,580 votes to become the fourth MP for Peterborough in three years.
Mr Bristow, who was the managing director of a communication business specialising in healthcare before entering the Commons, paid tribute to his three most recent predecessors in his maiden speech in Parliament, including Fiona Onasanya - who was jailed for three months while an MP for perverting the course of justice - who he said should be “proud” of becoming the city’s first black MP.
And he also praised the city’s “world-class manufacturers” Perkins Engines and Peter Brotherhood, as well as city firms Westcombe Engineering and Photocentric, while boasting that Peterborough has “one of finest Norman cathedrals in Europe”.
He also highlighted the internationally recognised Bronze Age findings at Must Farm near Whittlesey and praised the city’s “talented and hard working population,” while emphasising the positive impact of migrants who have settled here.
But his most passionate comments were on the NHS which he frequently turned to during his speech, including calling for more investment locally.
Explaining the subject was “personal” because his parents both moved to the city to work in the NHS, he also said his approach to the subject was based on his working background.
He said: “We need a service that is relentlessly focussed on improving outcomes for patients. There is an opportunity for the UK to lead the world in healthcare outcomes, healthcare research and jobs in life sciences and health technology.”
He called for his party to press forward with building new hospitals, recruiting new staff and ensuring there is “appropriate 24/7 emergency cover for interventions that save lives”.
But focusing on Peterborough, he added: “I want to see an elective PCI service (for heart attack patients) at Peterborough hospital to prevent the needless – often difficult – journeys for patients to Cambridge. What matters is patient outcomes, not a trust trying to justify recent investment through financial returns.
“Our local hospital struggles with the mountain of debt it has to serve thanks to Labour’s disastrous PFI (private finance initiative) contract. It needs a new future and direction and that can start with new services.”
Mr Bristow returned to the NHS later in his speech, where he stated the need for “more timely access to medicines and health technology (which) could transform the service for patients”.
He added: “The NHS needs to do what the evidence and the experts have already told us to do – what works – and what will make a difference to patients.
I understand that this isn’t easy – it requires a culture change and a change in established care pathways that have existed for decades.
“But we can do this – and with the investment and determination demonstrated by this Government I am confident for the future.”
Mr Bristow regularly littered with his speech by emphasising his “honour” to serve Peterborough - calling it a “special city”.
But he added: “For all our positives we need a cultural change. Far too many people think negatively about our city, not helped by bogus surveys naming Peterborough the worst place to live in the UK. Fake polling doesn’t harm us, but a negative mindset does.
“I am unafraid to say that I’m proud of Peterborough. I am unafraid to the point that it has become a personal slogan, which honourable members may have to endure during my future contributions in this chamber. Because we should be proud.”
The MP also raised the issue of Kashmir, stating: “Like other members of this House, striving for peace and respect for the rights of my constituents’ families in Kashmir is a serious and ongoing concern.”
And he called on the Government to make sure it does not just focus on the North and Midlands while forgetting places like Peterborough.
He ended his speech by stating: “I am proud of both Peterborough and our NHS – both have achieved great things – but I have my eyes open to the challenges we face.
“But with investment and commitment the best is yet to come.”
The speech in full
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to give my maiden speech.
It seems right to make it in a debate on the Queen’s Speech about health and social care.
Those services – both our care and NHS services – have been part of my life. They have been part of my career - and they are part of how I intend to serve the people of Peterborough as their Member of Parliament.
That’s partly because Peterborough is a growing city. We need more resources for our local NHS.
Now we finally have a majority government, elected on a pledge to deliver, I am confident we will get them.
If you had to pick one constituency to illustrate the political chaos before the general election, you might well choose mine.
I am the fourth MP for Peterborough in less than three years. Local people in our city have had more than their fair share of turmoil, disgust at politicians and elections. They were crying out for the same political stability that our country needed, and having elected me I’d like to modestly suggest they achieve this by returning the same MP for an extended period of time… 20 or 30 years perhaps?
But it’s an honour to represent Peterborough for any time, however long or short. I feel that honour all the more keenly because it is the place where I grew up and the place that is my home.
Each of my three immediate predecessors left their mark and each, being fair, cared about our local NHS services. Although Fiona Onasanya will inevitably be remembered for the manner of her departure, our city should be proud that we elected our first black MP in 2017 – as should she.
I stood in last year’s by-election with Lisa Forbes, so we have a lot of shared experience. Lisa was gracious in victory and gracious in defeat. She did not have much time in this House, but I respect the way she conducted herself during the campaign and I know that her commitment to Peterborough was sincere.
She should also be proud of her campaign on the costs of school uniforms – and I wish her well on her future endeavours.
Finally, but not least, I would like to pay tribute to Stewart Jackson. I have known Stewart since I was a teenager – and that was, as I am increasingly aware, some time ago.
As many on these benches know, he was a great champion for Peterborough. He has also been a great friend to me. He served my constituents with distinction for 12 years. We share many views in common, not least our desire to get Brexit done.
On other subjects we sometimes differ. But if I can begin to match his dedication I won’t have gone far wrong.
And Peterborough deserves that dedication. It is a special, ancient city with a proud history.
We have one of finest Norman cathedrals in Europe, where Mary Queen of Scots lay after her death and where Catherine of Aragon is buried. The cathedral holds the Hedda Stone – just one part of our Anglo-Saxon heritage – and its wooden ceiling dates from 1250.
Yet that was relatively late in our past. The recent excavations at Must Farm, near Whittlesey, mean that Peterborough Museum now hosts a stupendous display of Bronze Age artefacts. We have even been dubbed Britain’s answer to Pompeii.
Mr Speaker, the former residents of Pompeii spent centuries huddled together in small groups, covered in ash. As a purveyor of Peterborough nightclubs before the smoking ban, I can confirm that Peterborough’s nightlife felt no different.
Thankfully, today it is rather healthier. And although Peterborough’s history is special, our potential is more exciting still.
Building on our past as a working city and our world-class manufacturers at Perkins Engines and Peter Brotherhood, we should seize on our new trading opportunities to become a national centre of excellence in engineering and agri-tech.
The plans for a specialist university are crucial and I will be lobbying the Government for the support this new institution requires.
We are already innovators, in more ways than one.
Westcombe Engineering has thrived by employing people with disabilities, understanding the return that investing in a workforce can bring. Photocentric is printing in new dimensions, helping to lead the 3D revolution.
But for all our positives, we need a cultural change. Far too many people think negatively about our city, not helped by bogus surveys naming Peterborough the worst place to live in the UK. Fake polling doesn’t harm us, but a negative mindset does.
I am unafraid to say that I’m proud of Peterborough. I am unafraid to the point that it has become a personal slogan, which honourable members may have to endure during my future contributions in this chamber. Because we should be proud.
We have a great city with a thriving retail sector.
We have fantastic transport links. The East Coast Main Line puts us just 40 minutes from London, while the A1 puts us on one of the north-south road arteries.
And the A47 connects us east to west, which it will do so much better when the Government finally agrees to dual it through my constituency.
Though a long suffering York City football club fan through a hereditary condition – we have a sort of successful football club whose status as The Posh should be a reproach to teams with superficially smarter grounds that lack the cache of improbable and frustrating defeats.
We achieve in ice hockey, speedway and rugby.
We have a talented and hard working population. Migrants from across the world demonstrate our global appeal. Many Italians arrived after the Second World War and many Eastern Europeans more recently – joined in between by large parts of the Indian and Pakistani diaspora, particularly from the Kashmir region.
Like other members of this House, striving for peace and respect for the rights of my constituents’ families in Kashmir is a serious and ongoing concern.
Yet the diversity of our city’s population is part of our strength. The future should be ours in Peterborough. It just takes a little help.
We have heard much about the need for this Government to deliver for the North and Midlands. I wholeheartedly agree.
But, in a confident tone, I will be reminding ministers that many of characteristics of these northern towns and cities are shared by my seat.
Like the North and the Midlands, Peterborough expects.
As this Parliament proceeds, I am confident we will deliver for the people who elected us.
On the subject of this debate – on care and the NHS – we must deliver.
For me, this is personal. It was the NHS that brought me to Peterborough as a five-year-old. My parents moved to the area to work in the city’s health service.
My father began his NHS career as a nurse, later becoming the head of child and adolescent psychiatry at Peterborough District Hospital. My mother was a deputy sister at a residential care home for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
I should also declare another interest – and have literally done so. Until my election I owned a communications business, specialising in health and social care.
My partner, Sara, works for the same company, representing the industry, professional societies and the charitable sector.
It’s from this background that I approach our NHS and social care system. We need a service that is relentlessly focussed on improving outcomes for patients. There is an opportunity for the UK to lead the world in healthcare outcomes, healthcare research and jobs in life sciences and health technology.
I believe we need to do three things.
The first is to make good our promises for new hospitals and extra capacity. That means building new hospitals and upgrading others. But it also means increasing capacity in the system.
It starts with recruiting new staff: doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
It also means ensuring the whole of the UK has appropriate 24/7 emergency cover for interventions that save lives, like specialist trauma services, primary PCI for heart attack patients and mechanical thrombectomy for stroke patients. No patient should miss life-saving treatment because the service wasn’t available at the weekend.
I want to see an elective PCI service at Peterborough hospital to prevent the needless – often difficult – journeys for patients to Cambridge. What matters is patient outcomes, not a trust trying to justify recent investment through financial returns.
Our local hospital struggles with the mountain of debt it has to serve thanks to Labour’s disastrous PFI contract – it needs a new future and direction and that can start with new services.
Secondly, I commend the Government for their ambition on life sciences research and manufacturing.
A clear demonstration of this Government’s commitment to the life sciences industry is their ambitious target of spending 2.4 per cent of GDP on R&D (research and development) by 2027, something that should be welcomed, especially with significant progress already made.
The Government has invested an extra £4 billion in R&D since 2017, putting us ahead of countries such as Germany, Japan and Canada.
Alongside increases in R&D spending, this Government has delivered a step change in their approach to giving patients access to new technologies through the work of the Accelerated Access Collaborative. Through this work the Government are helping make the UK the destination of choice for companies to design, develop and deploy their new technologies and treatments.
I want the Government to double down on these commitments.
Finally, I am delighted that this Government will enshrine in law the extra £33 billion a year investment for our NHS to transform care – with a particular focus on technology.
Specific pledges on scanners and diagnostic equipment will identify diseases more quickly extending and improving lives.
More timely access to medicines and health technology could transform the service for patients.
But we don’t need to invent the wheel. Simply ensuring that our NHS complies with guidelines from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence on medicine and technology uptake would make an enormous difference.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be swanky and brand new.
Put simply, the NHS needs to do what the evidence and the experts have already told us to do – what works – and what will make a difference to patients.
I understand that this isn’t easy – it requires a culture change - and a change in established care pathways that have existed for decades.
But we can do this – and with the investment and determination demonstrated by this Government I am confident for the future.
Peterborough and our NHS have a lot in common.
I am proud of both Peterborough and our NHS – both have achieved great things – but I have my eyes open to the challenges we face.
But with investment and commitment – the best is yet to come.