I got straight back to work after my re-election as our MP last Friday morning. The result was announced at 4.20am and I was back in Parliament to be sworn in at 9.30am. This is thought to be a record for the quickest time.
The reason I went back so quickly was to support a Bill to protect our NHS. I spoke against further fragmentation and privatisation of the service. Very few government MPs bothered to attend but the opposition benches, on which I now sit, were full (pictured right) and there was strong support for the NHS.
So far this week I have been busy in Parliament every day.
On Monday I supported Zac Goldsmith MP, who has been leading the campaign for Real Recall so that the public can ‘recall’ MPs who let them down, and insist on a by-election. Zac came over to consult us on our new UKIP bench (pictured left) but, unfortunately, those of us who believe in Real Recall were in a minority. The majority of MPs have decided a committee of MPs, and not voters, will decide if an MP may be recalled, which we see as an establishment stitch up.
On Tuesday the front page of the Daily Telegraph referred to one patient at Medway hospital A&E waiting 35 hours to be seen, while ten had waited more than 24 hours there in the past year. When I asked Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, whether he could report any progress to improve the A&E, he responded by attacking me and UKIP.
On Wednesday I followed up again on Medway hospital and asked the Prime Minister whether he agreed with Dr Philip Barnes, the hospital’s Acting Chief Executive, that what our hospital needed was ‘a period of patience and stability’.
It was not completely clear from the Prime Minister’s response whether he agreed that was the priority, but he too ended up attacking me and UKIP instead of answering the question. UKIP’s policy on the NHS is to replace the current alphabet soup of regulators and competing bodies in the NHS with a single elected NHS health board for Kent and Medway.
You can also see from this short clip what MPs thought of our democratic decision to re-elect me as our representative. Even if they now fear for their own jobs because of UKIP, they should surely respect what voters decide.
On Thursday I listened to the debate on the historic child sex abuse inquiry which the government set up following pressure from the Home Affairs Select Committee, of which I have been a member. There was a good debate, again including Zac Goldsmith and also Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, but sadly there were only a dozen MPs present.
Today I am holding my MP’s surgery. After that I am travelling to Skegness to join the Panel for this week’s edition of the BBC’s Any Questions. If you would like to hear our debate it will be on Radio 4 at 8pm tonight and again just after 1.10pm tomorrow.