I am very grateful and overwhelmed by the warmth and support I have received in recent weeks from Parliamentary colleagues on all sides, from organisations and individuals and many constituents and friends. It is no exaggeration to say that I am very lucky to be alive. I owe my life directly to the NHS and indirectly to Jools Holland.
I had to have major surgery following a ruptured aortic aneurism. On November 27 I returned from a week abroad with the Foreign Affairs Committee visiting Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. I was tired and not feeling well, but I decided nevertheless to go out with friends that Friday evening for our annual Jools Holland concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
I collapsed outside after the concert and my friends called the ambulance. I was taken initially to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and then transferred to St Mary’s Paddington in the early hours of Saturday. They rushed me straight into the operating theatre, cut off my shirt and started to operate immediately even before the anaesthetic had taken effect. I understand I had several further operations subsequently.
I want to thank all the staff of the Intensive Care Unit, and the Charles Pannett and Zachary Cope wards, senior and junior doctors, nurses, cleaners, physiotherapists, and others for all their kindness and care.
Let no one tell you that we don’t have a 24-hour service seven days a week at our hospitals. Our NHS staff work 12-hour shifts from eight to eight. Junior doctors and other NHS staff deserve our praise and support.
I left hospital a month ago and am now recovering at home. I expect to be back at meetings in the constituency and in Parliament around Easter.