It would be wrong to say that all has been quiet since I last wrote this column before Christmas. I suspect we have all read enough about the events surrounding my departure from Government, so I will restrict myself to thanking once again the many people from Ashford and beyond, of all political persuasions, who have been so supportive in recent weeks.
Life goes on, and there are always new challenges to face. The current one, both locally and nationally, is the winter problems facing the health service. Like everyone I have been anxious about how the William Harvey in particular will cope, especially given its recent history.
I have heard some disturbing individual stories about waiting times in particular, and later this week I will be taking these up with the new senior team at the Trust. The first week of January is always the most stressed time for the NHS, and extra resources were made available for it this time, so it is a case of seeing how each part of the Health Service has responded.
Even with the recent problems at the hospital, it is worth noting the scale of the extra work being done there. Since 2010 the number of operations done in a year has risen from 95,000 to 134,000. The number of diagnostic tests has risen from 238,000 to 272,000.
Equally we should pay tribute to our GPs, who are of course the bedrock of the NHS, although much more media attention is paid to the hospitals. In the Ashford area three quarters of the practices assessed by the CQC have been rated good or outstanding.
For all this there is clearly work to be done to continue to improve healthcare in our area. In particular we will be facing an ageing population, with all the extra demands that brings. This is a subject to which I will be giving particular attention in the months and years ahead.