This election could not be more important.
It is our last opportunity to stop Brexit and end the chaos that has been inflicted as a result of the divisive and misleading 2016 referendum campaign.
But it is also an opportunity to focus on how to protect the future of our public services including the NHS, social care and public health.
These are quite literally at breaking point, with a workforce feeling demoralised, undervalued and overstretched.
As a former doctor I have lived experience of working in the NHS and have spent the last nine years in parliament focused on developing and guiding good health policy and holding the government and NHS leaders to account.
We need members of parliament who have real, lived experience of the NHS working to protect it for future generations.
Please support my campaign to be re-elected to Westminster to continue this task.
I left the Conservative party in February 2019, because I could no longer support a government that lied about imaginary post-Brexit funding for the NHS and who was intent on driving through a Brexit policy that we all know will have a devastating effect on this vital national institution.
The Conservative government ducked crucial political decisions on sustainable long-term funding for social care, and they refused cross party offers to try and find a solution.
As any fellow clinician will know, a direct result of prolonged underfunding and deliberate transfers of funding elsewhere means that NHS hospitals now have a £6.5 billion maintenance backlog, much of which threatens safety and is contributing to lengthening waiting lists.
Vacancy rates have soared and experienced clinicians have left or cut their hours as a result of a pensions debacle that the government has failed to grasp, despite repeated warnings about the effect on patient care.
The Conservatives cannot be trusted on their shiny new promises but must be judged on their record of failing to protect public services and worsening inequalities.
There is, quite simply, no version of Brexit that will help people who depend on the NHS, social care, public health, research and innovation.
The harder the Brexit, the more it disrupts the connections and cooperation that have been built up over four decades as members of the EU. It will hit every stage of the supply of medicines from the research lab to the pharmacy shelf. It will affect the monitoring of safety.
And it has a direct effect on the wonderful EU workforce that literally keeps our service going.
My role in supporting the NHS
I have chaired the cross party Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee since 2014, and joined it when first elected as an MP in 2010.
I am very proud of the committee’s record of holding the government as well as powerful individuals and organisations to account over the past decade. Here is why this work matters:
- In the past year we helped to shape and scrutinise the NHS’s recommendations to parliament on future legislation. This included ways to scrap the competition rules that inflict wasteful tendering, and changes that would help all parts of the NHS to wor, more closely together for the benefit of patients.
- We were the first select committee to work with a citizens assembly to come up with proposals for the fair and sustainable funding of social care.
- We played a vital role in unlocking the supply of medicines for people living with cystic fibrosis.
- We stopped the NHS sharing sensitive address data with the home office.
- We examined policy on issues like drug misuse, child and adolescent mental health, the nursing workforce, medicinal cannabis, capital and other NHS spending, childhood obesity, antimicrobial resistance and prison healthcare.
- We held regular accountability sessions with leaders from across the NHS as well as with the Secretary of State.
What the Liberal Democrats will do
The Liberal Democrats have pledged a £50 billion ‘Remain Bonus’ for health and social care if they are elected to government and stop Brexit on day one.
They will raise income tax by 1p in every £1 and ringfence that money to fund the NHS and social care.
They have pledged to give mental health the same priority as physical health, for everyone from new mums to students, prisoners to the elderly.
I am proud to be standing as a Liberal Democrat for re-election to parliament, to represent people from across the Totnes constituency.
I have a proven track record of holding the government and the powerful to account through my work and I want to bring this, and my experience as a former clinician, back to the House of Commons.
We need MPs from all walks of life, and I want to continue fighting hard in parliament to stop Brexit and protect our NHS. Please support my campaign.
I am hugely appreciative of the Green Party who have chosen to endorse me as the Remain candidate for Totnes and who will not be standing a candidate against me on December 12th. I have always tried to work cross party, as I believe that benefits everyone, and am pleased to support our pact with the Green Party and Plaid Cymru for this election.
Dr Sarah Wollaston