As I write this there is real hope that a ceasefire can be negotiated in Gaza following many months of conflict.

Talks have been taking place with both sides through the US and Qatar to try and reach a settlement that must include the release of all the hostages following the dreadful Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 last year.

Since then, many thousands have died and the humanitarian situation in Gaza has become unbearable. People are starving and many thousands have no home. Aid needs to be able to get into Gaza in huge quantities to help the population.

My feeling is the US is now putting more pressure on Israel to stop its military action. I am not sure an indefinite ceasefire can be brokered while Hamas – a terrorist organisation - remains in power in Gaza, but there is talk a six-month end to hostilities can be concluded that would give the population of Gaza much-needed breathing space and allow time for aid agencies to come in and help.

There are strong passions on both sides around this conflict. However, I know that nearly everyone wants to see an end to the fighting and the deaths. I hope that by the time you read this, that has been achieved if only temporarily. If that happens people can keep talking. My own view has not changed. We need a two-state solution if there is to be peace in the region. This is something I have pushed the government to continue to work towards and I have spoken in parliament about it on several occasions. A ceasefire would also lower tensions throughout the Middle East and hopefully stop the Houthis from attacking international shipping in the Red Sea.

Hospital managers have been busy in Winchester over these few weeks making a strong case for a new hospital for mid-Hampshire and reconfiguration of services at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital here in Winchester. My view is that the rationale for a 24-hour urgent treatment centre and then specialist services at the new £900m hospital, including A&E, is gaining ground. These managers have also made the case that improved maternity services at the new hospital would be better and safer for mums.

The facts here are simple: do we trust these experienced and qualified health professionals to know what they are doing? They are at the frontline of delivering acute NHS services and they say a new hospital is the best way forward. This does not mean we should not question them or air our concerns – we absolutely should – but we must also be ready to accept their expert judgements. Some have said they want all these services in Winchester mainly because it is convenient. But many of these services are not in Winchester now. Those with heart conditions and some cancers must go to Basingstoke or Southampton already. I think I would rather travel for 14 miles to a brand-new hospital with all the staff and equipment needed to save my life. And, as I have made it clear, that hospital must only be 10 minutes away at Junction 7 of the M3 – the preferred option - and not at the existing North Hampshire Hospital site in Basingstoke. That is too far.

Flick Drummond MP

Member of Parliament for Meon Valley