Over the past couple of weeks nursing has come up in several contexts and it’s such an important field of work that affects lots of different parts of our lives. Recently the temporary closure of the Magnolia Ward at Summerlands has been announced and at the same time I hear from people considering careers in nursing but not necessarily finding the path into training to be straightforward. This needs to change and we need to better understand recruitment and retention challenges. I have raised this twice in the House of Commons, more recently on Tuesday when I spoke in Health Questions to ask in particular about training and availability of mental health nurses, where we have seen a shortage at Magnolia.
The good news is that the number of training places has increased and more nurses are currently training in this field than any other, by percentage of total number. So the priority is right in that respect from our experience here in Somerset. Pay is also an issue that is being discussed. It probably doesn’t help that the public sector which encompasses hundreds of different jobs and a huge range of salaries is described as one entity. It includes hardworking nurses who should get a payrise and a fair few managers on packages way in excess of what they could expect in the private sector. Even so I am hopeful that there can be a bit more flexibility this year and implement that sustainably without borrowing more money.
I’d like to thank innovative local high tech business AV Optics for showing me their operations in Yeovil last week. It was great to talk about their varied array of products, from rugged fibre communications installations to optical engineering training services, to field optical fibre repair kits, and also investing in cutting edge medical and material imaging and monitoring innovations. We are reconstituting the All party Parliamentary Group for Photonics soon and I look forward to promoting local businesses such as this and Gooch & Housego through that forum.
Talking of technology it was good to welcome Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin and the MoD procurement team back to Leonardo last week for an update on the unmanned aerial systems collaboration and other aspects of the Strategic Partnership Agreement. Following on from the recent Identity Friend or Foe contract announcement it is great to see both parties working together in really cutting edge technology. I’m very much looking forward to the Yeovilton Air Day on Saturday to catch up with friends and colleagues and promote our skills and expertise here.
As always, if you would like to get in touch about any of these issue please email email@example.com or call 01935314321. Similarly please do get in touch if you have an issue that I may be able to help with. Although the House of Commons takes a break in the Summer my office will be open throughout.