HAVING to go into hospital can be quite a traumatic and trying time for anyone.
Whether it's anxieties about being away from home, fears of acquiring an infection whilst in hospital or concerns about the level of privacy available, it all adds up.
You will be pleased to learn that the Heart of England Foundation Trust, which includes Solihull Hospital, was recently audited and came out with the ratings of 'good' for quality and excellent for 'use of resources'.
We're lucky with the quality of many of our local public services, but I feel we should be going further.
We shouldn't be content with reducing the number of hospital acquired infections such as MRSA or Clostridium difficile, we should have zero tolerance in this area.
Then there is the issue of dignity in hospital. A decade ago we were promised that the indignity of mixed sex wards would be ended but this hasn't yet been achieved.
The Department of Health's guidance since 2001 has been that the proportion of single rooms in new hospital developments should be at least 50 per cent, and should in no case fall below 20 percent. However, over three quarters of new hospitals opened since 2001 do not have 50 per cent single rooms.
I believe all patients who need one, on grounds of medical safety or to maintain personal dignity, should have access to a single room.
Obviously this cannot happen overnight but should be planned for over a specifically defined time period so that people know where they stand.
All mothers giving birth in NHS hospitals who want a single room should have one, everyone staying on mental health wards should have a single room, and a set proportion of single rooms across the NHS should be specifically reserved so that patients who have, or are suspected of having, a hospital infection can immediately be isolated.
The NHS is one of our most precious institutions, and one which I, like so many other people, have relied on.
But I want us to strive for even higher standards of dignity and safety and provide real choice to patients.
This should ensure that every patient will feel far more confident and comfortable when they have to go to hospital for any reason.