Readers may recall me writing a few weeks ago about an initiative of mine to spend some time on the frontline with our local emergency services to see some of the issues they face on a day-to-day basis.
I started with a Friday night visit to Cramlington Hospital’s A&E department, and I have to say it was a real eye-opener to see the pace doctors and nurses, as well as their support staff, including porters and domestics, worked at all evening.
There never seemed to be a moment’s respite for them as they treated the many patients who had gone to the hospital seeking help.
Recently, a friend of mine spent some time in the department as a patient and he confirmed my impressions from the perspective of someone seeking medical help himself.
This weekend I will be continuing my initiative by visiting Northumbria Police, first in the force’s operations centre, then by going out ‘on the beat’ with a frontline crew.
This will be the second time I have worked in this way with police to experience frontline policing.
Later, I am hoping to repeat the exercise with the fire brigade because I believe that as politicians if we are speaking about our emergency services and the work pressures they face, not least from cut-backs, we should do so from the basis of having first-hand experience and knowledge of what we are talking about.
I am grateful to the Cramlington Hospital and Northumbria Police for giving me the opportunity to see them at work.
All of us, our families and friends, turn to the emergency services at one time or another and it is so reassuring to know that they are ready, willing and able to respond in the way they do when we need their help.
As politicians we must give them the support and financial backing they need to carry out their work, and through my initiative I will be better informed to do just that in debates inside and outside the House of Commons.