I know how strongly people in West Sussex feel about protecting our local hospitals - St Richard's, Worthing and the Princess Royal - and so do I.

I also know, both from personal experience and from what constituents tell me, that these hospitals provide an excellent standard of care for local people that is appreciated and valued.

But things can go wrong, and I have had to deal with a few distressing constituency cases where care has fallen well short of acceptable standards.  And in other parts of the country, a series of shocking undercover investigations have revealed real problems in a minority of hospitals.

The Care Quality Commission has found one in five hospitals wanting.  The recent revelation that some, particularly elderly, patients are not getting the food and drink they need, or being treated with the respect they deserve, has been particularly appalling.

There is excellent nursing in the NHS - I have seen this for myself, and I pay tribute to the nurses who deliver it.

But I sometimes wonder if, in the rush to professionalise nursing and set qualifications, which are of course important, we may have lost sight of the fundamental vocational skill of caring for people that is also so vital.

This is a view that was strongly expressed to me by a constituent who had until recently worked for years in the NHS and was devoted to it.

Nursing needs to be about patients, not paperwork.  So I am pleased that the Government plans to get rid of a raft of bureaucracy that stops nurses from doing what they do best.

In return, patients should expect nurses to undertake regular nursing rounds - systematically and routinely checking that each of their patients is comfortable, properly fed and hydrated, and treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

This happens in the best hospitals, but it needs to happen everywhere.  I am pleased that the Royal College of Nursing supports the Government on this issue.

I would like to thank the wonderful nurses and staff in our local hospitals for what they do for us.  I think they will agree about the importance of ensuring that nursing is excellent everywhere.

Christopher N Howarth