‘Honoured’ by invitation to opening of Strand Medical Group’s new practice

People interested in the benefits of professional journalism and who care about public-interest journalism should read chapter six of the review by Dame Frances Cairncross.

On Tuesday I spoke, mentioning the BBC support scheme for local journalism.

The underlying problem is caused by the incredible share of advertising now taken by two modern media giants. One way or another, it is vital that trained journalists can print edited reports on what happens in our council rooms and our law courts, in addition to reporting on protests, campaigns and desired initiatives.

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During my time serving the Worthing West constituency from Rustington to Worthing hospital and from the High Salvington windmill to the coast, I cannot think of a significant problem or a major threat that was not covered by the Littlehampton Gazette and the Worthing Herald.

Sir Peter Bottomley cutting the ribbon at the new Strand Medical Group practice

The cross-party campaign Tim Loughton MP and I formed to save Worthing and Southlands Hospitals, led brilliantly by Major Tom Wye and Ron Noakes of the Hospital Friends, was successful because of the commitment of the local newspaper editor and his team. They reported fairly; that allowed staff, residents and patients to combine in the greatest sustained successful campaign ever experienced in our district.

|Also in the news - campaigners and developers are set to butt heads once again over long-running plans to build retirement flats in Arundel; police arrested a 19-year-old woman on suspicion of assault in Worthing town centre, police confirmed; families of children resting in Durrington Cemetery have been left ‘gobsmacked and heartbroken’ over attempts to remove tributes from the children’s section|

The result, following the joint working with St Richards in Chichester and the leadership of Dame Marianne Griffiths, is outstanding in both senses of the word. On Friday, I was honoured to be invited to the official opening of the Strand Medical Group’s new practice. Their hub is central to their service: it is a contrast to the hubbub at Westminster.

Dr Andy Thompson and all his clinical and support colleagues have fought through every difficulty to create the opportunity to serve local patients. Amongst the people he and I thanked were the central NHS England who had to create a new system, the district valuers who sanctioned the terms, the directors of the developers Rocco whose patience was impressive, the councillors, the leader and officials of Worthing Borough Council who with countless others have established good consulting and treatment rooms for the benefit of patients, respecting the needs of the clinicians who dedicate their professional training to our National Health Service.

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

The NHS was first imagined by a Liberal minister Christopher Addison around 1919; the first government NHS White Paper was published by the Conservative health minister Henry Willink; then the Labour health minister brought it into service in 1948. That shared history shows our political system’s continuity.

It was good to see councillor Heather Mercer who contributes so much to nursing in many ways. She was recently elected to the council of the Royal College of Nursing, in place of the then chairman. It is inspiring to read the description of how she was qualified and keen to serve at the highest level. Her time in nursing has seen professionalism recognised without the full recognition in pay and prospects that should be available.

During the weekend I called on a distinguished retired nurse. She showed me fascinating photographs and talked of the excellent initial on-the-job training she experienced with the Church of England Children’s Society, the old ‘Waifs and Strays’.

As a past chairman, I can pass her collection to the archivist. You would never see a happier collection of young children. The tragedy in 1948 was that so many mothers felt forced to give up their children for adoption because of rigid social norms and worries about what the neighbours would think.

Occasionally I think it would help for our churches to have an image of the pregnant Mary with a sign: “Society did not think much of me at the time.”


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