As Parliament enters its summer recess, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on the last year in Westminster. Despite a few notable moments of national interest, this Parliament has also been crucial for delivering important legislation to ensure that we could navigate through what has been an incredibly difficult international period for global economies and our shared security.
As your MP for Derby North, I have been pleased to see first-hand how the activity at Westminster has had a direct effect on the lives of constituents. I am extremely proud of the Government’s generous support for energy bills, and significant new investment in our NHS and locally, one of my highlights was the successful campaign to locate the headquarters of Great British Railways in Derby.
It’s wonderful to look back on how much hard work went into achieving this, both in Derby and in Westminster. I look back on the many hours I spent in meetings with my ministerial colleagues to seek assurances that this exciting scheme will be heading our way and I know every minute will be worth it as the HQ will offer significant new opportunities to Derby North.
The issue I hear about frequently on the doorstep is energy bills and I am grateful that the Prime Minister has trusted me to oversee this policy area for the Government. I am extremely proud of successive Government’s commitment to supporting consumers with bills across this Parliament and the last. I know this resolve to protect consumers will remain steadfast as energy prices remain vulnerable to international pressures, most pressingly and obviously from the war in Ukraine.
Another hot topic locally was the Darley Abbey bridge which was found to be on the point of collapse last year. After many hours of negotiation and some excellent work from Derby City Council, we finally saw a temporary bridge lowered into place in October, reuniting Darley Abbey with its mill, and the many businesses and restaurants on the other side of the Derwent.
Our National Health Service has been a key topic in Parliament this past year and I am pleased that my ministerial colleagues have continued to support our health service with record levels of funding despite difficult economic pressures. The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement made a further £8 billion available for the NHS and adult social care in England for 2024-25, increasing our yearly spend on the service to a staggering £160 billion.
I know that waiting times have been far too high, constituents in Derby North have waited too long to see GPs, and dentists and to have routine hospital appointments. However, the Prime Minister and Health Secretary recognise this, and the recent NHS Long Term Workforce Plan has set ambitious new targets for new medical school places. I know that undergraduate places will double by 2031 and a higher proportion of new medical students will carry out their postgraduate training in services such as primary care, mental health, and cancer.
These measures will not immediately clear all waiting lists, but they will help significantly, and they are solutions to long terms issues that will mean our health service will be more resilient in the future to shocks such as the pandemic. These steps are examples of how Government can make meaningful strategic decisions and react decisively to the problems we face. I am proud of the consistent support Conservative Governments have committed to our health service and this Parliament has been another example of our unwavering support for healthcare free and accessible at the point of consumption.
The headline news has been well-documented, from Covid recovery to new residents of number 10, but it’s important to remember that closer to home the city of Derby continues to thrive, businesses and central Government continue to put their trust in Derby and our future looks very bright indeed. I will continue to champion Derby in Westminster, but for now, I am very much looking forward to an extended stay in the constituency as recess approaches.