On Friday I, along with Redditch Borough Council leader Bill Hartnett, met with the CEO at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Michelle McKay, Trust chairman Caragh Merrick and Simon Trickett, chief officer of NHS Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, the local commissioning group.

The purpose of the meeting was to find out the latest update on all the important issues surrounding the Trust, and of course the Alex here in Redditch, and it was good to have cross-party unity on the matters that came up.

There is an imminent upcoming inspection which will examine 14 of the 22 core services, and the results of that will be published in May. Both Michelle and Caragh were confident that these measures will have improved, which could potentially lift he Trust out of Special Measures, which is good news indeed.

The long-term financial plan was also discussed, and this could see the Trust in the black within three to four years, while recruitment, which had been an issue in our local hospitals, is looking altogether more positive with successful campaigns bringing staff to the Trust. The issue of the £29m capital funding was also discussed of course, and the final business case that will enable access to the majority of the funding is due to be submitted in the next few weeks.

Earlier in the week I had held talks with senior personnel at Marks & Spencer, which also involved the Kingfisher Centre, regarding the devastating news that they will be closing their long-established Redditch store at the end of April. They explained the reasoning behind the decision and that even food sales in Redditch were poor, but we put our strong case for a food only store in the Kingfisher and as we speak the dialogue is continuing.

This is recess week for Parliament (a week earlier than the half-term for schools) and I have been taking the opportunity to visit more schools in the constituency. There are so many excellent schools here in Redditch and surrounding villages and they are all working very hard to provide an excellent education for our children. I also held a couple of meetings with high school and college head teachers and principals regarding the detail of my upcoming Business Mentors’ scheme, and I am delighted at how enthusiastic the schools are to participate and put forward delegates to take advantage of the wealth of experience business people can offer to help youngsters on the ladder to a successful life and future career.