I have never held any front bench ambition. I know that there are people in my own party who regard me as a bit of a rebel, I like to think that I am independent, which is an essential quality in a Select Committee Chairman.
With ten years of nursing experience within the NHS, a former director of BUPA and a natural leaning to towards all health related issues, I feel I can bring a prior knowledge, passion and understanding to the Chair.
As a single mother of three daughters and someone who in recent years has taken full responsibility for two terminally ill elderly relatives, I also bring practical first hand experience of what it is like to be on the receiving end, both as a patient and a carer.
The nature and remit of Select Committees is about to change for the better and never before was there a time when that change could be put to such good use.The structure of the new Committees will provide us with an opportunity to embrace democracy in a way which in the past has become damaged and eroded. In the past, the gift of a select Committee Chair was in the hands of the whips. Today a Chairman is selected via votes taken by all MPs from across the house. This makes the Committee much more powerful than it ever was before, resembling the American model of Select Committee.
No longer will Chairman have to behave in a covert partisan manner, often choosing to investigate a populist subject which will fill a few columns of newsprint and not rock the Government boat. Committees will now have the power to fully probe and investigate. All members of the committee will genuinely be able to leave party politics at the Committee room door.
If I am voted to Chair the Health Select Committee I will guarantee that the Committee will work truly and wholly on behalf of the people. That we challenge thoroughly, deeply and analytically every major health policy decision brought forward by the coalition government.
The next few years are going to bring budget cuts. David Cameron promised real term spending increases for health. I intend to help him stick to that promise whilst providing value for money reform and substantially increasing levels of patient care.
Under my Chairmanship the new Health Select Committee will need to take a departmental, rather than a subject view. It will be required to analyse budgets as well as research and in these years of cuts, adopt a role of scrutiny. PCTs will be called to explain how they intend to implement a management budget cut in absolute detail without affecting in any way levels of patient care.
And that’s where I see the focus of the Health Select Committee remit over the next five years. Looking over the shoulder of the Department of Health every step of the way. Calling witness after witness to explain their reasoning and motivation and being the strongest loudest voice for the patient who too often is caught between a rock and party politics.