It has been a whirlwind first couple of months for Sleaford and North Hykeham’s new MP and Dr Caroline Johnson has revealed how she has hit the ground running.
The new Conservative MP said her election on December 9 was an honour, a privilege and a responsibility. But her first task has been to set up an office in Westminster, as she does not automatically inherit her predecessor’s, Stephen Phillips. Instead she has secured Zack Goldsmith’s old office, after he lost the Richmond Park by-election.
She said: “I’ve been ordering a computer, all the paper I will need and finding a secretary. You receive a salary and allowance, but then run your office like a small business.”
Dr Johnson added: “There are a lot of procedures to learn but there is a great sense of camaraderie. It is noisy at Prime Minister’s Questions but people are genuinely trying to make things better for their areas and the people they represent.”
She has already held quite a few consituency surgeries. Many queries relate to health, education and social care and she has found her medical background useful.
The consultant paediatrician finished her final shifts at Peterborough Hospital before Christmas and said: “I have been amazed how many constituents have said they didn’t want me to stop doing medicine. I guess it keeps you in touch with the real world. I am concentrating on this job now but I’m giving it some consideration. But it would have to fit around my role as MP.”
Dr Johnson has delivered her first question, on ambulance response times in rural areas, at Prime Minister’s Questions. She had to bob up and down to catch The Speaker’s eye. She said: “Ambulances might not be able to get there as quickly but they still need good response times.”
She and neighbouring MPs Robert Jenrick and Nick Bowles are applying pressure at higher levels on this and Grantham A&E services.
She has met with residents, county council and BT officials at Wellingore Heath to discuss rural broadband improvements and will raise it with Digital Minister Matt Hancock.
Further on the rural agenda she said: “We have a group coming together with Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones, MPs and farmers talking about hare coursing and reducing other rural crime.”
Her first local business forum is due in a couple of weeks, when she will outline easier opportunities for exports. However, her first speech may be delayed by legislation to trigger Brexit for which she expects some late night debates.