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Ajay Kakkar addresses House of Lords for the first time

Professor Ajay Kakkar’s passionate maiden speech in the House of Lords last week brought murmurs of approval from the Lords Chamber, particularly as he described his affection for the NHS.

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Lord Kakkar, as he is now known, said to the House: “The NHS cannot and must not be taken for granted; it needs to be nurtured and nourished, pruned thoughtfully and sensitively where necessary but above all, respected.”

An expert in the treatment and prevention of blood clots at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Lord Kakkar used his new found platform to describe the importance of medical research and the need for addressing health inequalities.

“We have failed to develop a sustainable public health strategy and we are often unable to successfully disseminate and rapidly adopt innovation and the findings of medical research for the benefit of our patients,” the new cross-bench peer said.

“So much has been achieved yet there is so much more we need to do if we are going to retain a sustainable NHS for the benefit of all. The nation’s continuing commitment to the NHS offers both opportunities and important challenges to the medical profession.

“Despite being one of our country’s most cherished and important institutions, the NHS, like all healthcare providers around the world, faces immense challenge. With ever increasing costs on the one hand and both the delivery of care, and the nation’s health failing to meet expectations on the other, courage will be required to secure a sustainable NHS for the benefit of our people.

“The health bill provides the opportunity to ensure clinical leadership and partnership within the NHS. The expertise of your Lordship’s House will play an important role in achieving this.”

In his address he admitted his emotions “run high” whenever he enters the House.

Lord Kakkar first visited the House in December 1977 as a schoolboy and said he was “filled with such awe and excitement, and a passion for our nation’s democracy, debate and political discussion”.

More than 30 years later, Lord Kakkar’s expertise in thrombosis was given a warm welcome in the House. Following his first address, Baroness Elizabeth (Kay) Andrews said he will be “listened to most attentively in this house; I suspect particularly by the front bench which spends hours sitting still”.

Lord Kakkar thanked the House of Lords Appointments Commission, saying “their thorough interrogation, to which I was subjected, was without doubt the most demanding and insightful of my professional career to date”.

The House of Lords Appointments Commission is an advisory body set up by the Prime Minister to make recommendations for non-party-political peerages. The Commission’s remit is to find people of distinction who will bring authority and expertise to the House of Lords.

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