Monday, 22 January 2018

An e-mail to my MP Anna Soubry — Why the NHS, housing (and general wellbeing) needs a bipartisan approach — and the reply

As  you can see I sent the e-mail below two weeks ago come tomorrow. In the absence of a reply I have to assume my MP has no interest in a bipartisan approach to our NHS and the even greater housing crisis which has bedevilled us for decades. In fairness Ms Soubry is not alone. Many other MPs, including Labour, want to keep the NHS and housing party political. It is not a view I've ever shared.

From: Robert Howard <>
Date: 9 January 2018 at 5:54:09 pm GMT
Subject: NHS, housing (and general wellbeing) needs a bipartisan approach
Hello Ms Soubry

First, please forgive this long email, but please bear with me.

You write in your latest e-letter  'We really do have to grasp the challenges our NHS and social care system face. Extra money is important but so too are better systems and integration.' Over 40 years ago Old Boot, an English sheepdog character in the Daily Mirror strip cartoon 'The Perishers' said of a comment: 'As a statement it cannot be faulted for its accuracy, but it hardly throws a blinding flash of illumination on the dark mysteries of the universe (or in this case the NHS and social care).

I have long held the view that the NHS (and social care) needs a bipartisan approach involving politicians of all political parties, health workers, regardless of their status, the voluntary sector, related businesses and the general public, and that we need some kind of national convention to come up with a framework which supports local innovation and diversity alongside standards and a funding formula based on some kind of  health & care tax/charge, which also covers dentistry and eyesight (hearing is still part of the NHS, whereas the other two cost considerably more than many can afford).

I would also argue that housing needs to be considered as part of our health and social care system, because lack of decent housing impacts on personal wellbeing, and lack of wellbeing feeds into health needs big time (alcohol, drugs, diet, mental health and so the list could go on).

You are well placed to argue the case for a national convention to consider health care and related issues in the widest sense, perhaps suggesting that someone like Graham Allen could chair it (we live in an age when 'experts' rule when we what we need are sensible adjudicators who come to a problem not thinking they know the answers). He was an able honest MP with capabilities not utilised because he was a bit of a maverick - which is how I regard you.

Less than 12 months ago I had open heart surgery to replace a faulty aortic heart valve I was born with 73 years ago and 3 weeks ago my wife had a mastectomy after a recurrence of breast cancer after 11 years, so we both know the value and quality of the NHS first hand.

Between 1971 and 2006 when I retired I worked for two voluntary health care charities. BPAS Development Officer and Regional Manager/Head of Housing Management Advance Housing & Support (mental health/learning disability support), and chaired a community health council for six years, so I have a personal interest in health related issues and the local historian in me rate the provision of municipal housing in the 20th century as a greater achievement than the creation of the NHS.

I was lucky enough to grow up in the post-war period when, it can be argued, there was a (albeit competitive) bipartisan approach to health and housing by political parties. Public buildings all around us attest to this fact.

If I have a political wish for the future this is it!

Robert Howard
Beeston NG9 2PJ

PS. Brexit has to treated as a political beast with a life of its own and not one which we are all in thrall to at the expense of all else (ie. health, care, housing).


Dear Robert,

Thank you for your email and apologies for the delay in replying.

Anna very much supports the introduction of some sort of bipartisan commission or body for the NHS. At this stage Anna would be open as to exact nature of this commission and looks forward to considering proposals put forward by her colleagues and others. Anna sends both you and your wife her very best wishes, and would like to thank you for your work in this field.

Please be assured that this Government intends to significantly increase the number of houses being built. That is why the Government has committed to a total of at least £44 billion of capital funding, loans and guarantees to support the housing market over the next five years which will help deliver 300,000 net additional homes a year on average by the mid-2020s.

I hope this provides you with some reassurance.

Best wishes,

Emily Horner I Parliamentary Assistant to the Rt Hon Anna Soubry I Member of Parliament for Broxtowe.

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