Caroline is passionate about protecting local health and care resources and was thrilled to learn that Gosport was chosen by the Department of Health to be part of their Vanguard project to improve community care. Since then she has frequently met with the project leaders, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and local GPs to be updated on the project’s progress. It has notably delivered the ‘Same Day GP Access Service’ at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, where a Multi-speciality Community Provider hub has been established, integrating different healthcare specialists into one centralised hub with the aim of cutting GP waiting times, reducing hospital admissions and releasing people from hospital more quickly. At the same hospital, in early 2011 Caroline fought a successful bid back to secure the reopening of the Blake Maternity Unit, after midwives were being transferred to Queen Alexandra.
Since being elected, Caroline has continued to support the families of those who died at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital 1988-2000 to get access to the truth of what happened to their loved ones. In June 2018, the Gosport Independent Panel published their report into these deaths. The Department of Health & Social Care have put in place a support package for those affected by events at the Gosport War Memorial – call 01132545290 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
At the Queen Alexandra Hospital Caroline regularly meets with staff and management to raise constituents concerns and keep updated with developments at the site. Since 2017, it has been rated by a Care Quality Commission inspection report as ‘Requires Improvement’ (even though the standard of care was rated as Outstanding). Following this feedback, QA have published their strategy for the next five years entitled 'Working Together' which can be found here. After a discussion with the Chief Executive of Queen Alexandra Hospital in early 2018 about the state of the A&E facilities, Caroline suggested that they bid for the STP Capital Scheme, and subsequently the hospital put forward a proposal for redevelopment of their emergency floor. Caroline successfully lobbied the Minister of State for Health to highlight the importance of this £58.2million bid, securing a long term solution to this overstretched service and improving patient safety.
Amid frequent concerns from constituents regarding GP access, Caroline has met with the Willow Group, the Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group and Southern Health NHS Trust to discuss these problems and to hear what steps they are taking so that patients can access Primary Care efficiently. She has also met with partners at Stubbington Surgery to help find a solution to the cramped conditions at their practice.
In May 2019, Caroline hosted a Health Forum with representatives from The Willow Group, Better Local Care, the Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group, Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, NHS England Dentistry and South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. This forum gave Gosport constituents a unique opportunity to hear the latest updates and air their views on everything from dentistry to emergency care and ambulances to smoking cessation services.
A number of concerns regarding Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust have been highlighted by the Care Quality Commission over the years and Caroline attends regular meetings as well as receiving updates both from Southern Health and the Care Quality Commission. She has met with the leadership team and understands that a number of local residents rely on the services provided by Southern Health so she is keen to hold them to account for their failures and make sure that past mistakes cannot be repeated.
The Government’s continued investment into mental health, particularly in schools, is one of which Caroline is hugely supportive. In 2018, it was announced that mental health services will receive an additional £2.3 billion per year as part of the NHS five-year funding offer, including dedicated mental health teams in schools.
Caroline has fought for a great number of other healthcare campaigns. She has made many bids to bring greater fairness to the IVF guidelines implemented by the local Clinical Commissioning Group, guidelines which mean that couples in the Gosport and Fareham area cannot access the levels of IVF treatment they would be entitled to in other parts of the UK. With the launch of British Heart Foundation's Public Access Defibrillators scheme in October 2015, she called on local groups to take advantage of the defibrillator kits and CPR training on offer. The campaign garnered significant public attention locally and as a result, life-saving equipment has been installed at a number of locations across the constituency.
Through fund-raising and campaigning for various health causes, Caroline has raised much local and national awareness. Dementia is a condition that is very close to Caroline’s heart, and having become a Dementia Friend in 2015, she is now a Dementia Friend Champion, and has held many training sessions about the condition in her local office. She also works closely with Dementia Friendly Hampshire and participated in the local 2018 Alzheimers Society Memory Walk. Caroline has actively raised awareness on behalf of diabetes and cancer charities both locally and nationally, in recognition of their valuable work to tackle these dreadful diseases and support those affected. There are many other notable fundraisers in which she has participated, such as the WearAHatDay event with children from Alverstoke Infant School to help raise the profile of the Brain Tumour Research charity, her 2015 abseil down the Spinnaker Tower and in 2012 her parachute jump to raise funds for the Gosport & Fareham branch of the MS Society.
In January 2018, Caroline was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Health & Social Care. You can find out more information about her responsibilities here. In this role, Caroline announced that over 100 NHS hospitals will be able to build Changing Places facilities backed by a £2 million Government fund. She is pleased that across the Gosport constituency a number of Changing Places Facilities have been installed or are planned.