Recent days have shown the easiest and most difficult sides of being an MP at the same time. Last Friday I was looking forward hugely to celebrate the re-opening of the George pub in the centre of Bethersden when the terrible CQC report into the maternity problems at the William Harvey was published.
To take the unwelcome news first, the fact that in January, when the CQC investigated the maternity wards at the William Harvey, there were still many unacceptable practices, is very worrying. The Kirkup report last autumn should have sounded the alarm loudly enough for problems to be addressed quickly. Clearly that did not happen.
We are now at the stage where reassurance is needed that it is safe to have a baby at the William Harvey. To be fair there are surveys done of women who have given birth there and nine out of ten say that they had a positive experience.
There is also now a weekly monitoring of key issues which are showing improvements. But the next time the CQC come back they will need to see visible changes. In the long run these changes will have to include rebuilt rooms which can take the necessary equipment for safe modern childbirth.
To move to a more cheerful note, it was such a pleasure to pull the first pint at the “new” George in Bethersden. It felt like a large proportion of the village had turned out to celebrate, and so they should.
With the challenge of having to match a Government grant of £250,000, Bethersden responded magnificently. They raised much more than that, and despite some hairy moments over the past couple of years the village now has a new pub at its centre.
This is a tribute to best kind of community spirit and willingness to step forward. Cheers, Bethersden!