• Healthcare

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    24 February 2017

    The NHS has never been out of the news. Not just under this government but of those of all colours and going right back to its inception. It has always been under pressure to keep up with the demands that all of us rightly make to treat those in need. Against a backdrop of the pressing necessity for controlling our public finances we have continued to increase funding for the NHS. More cash alone though is insufficient as there are huge growing demands relating to demographic change, advances in drugs and procedures and our ever greater expectations of what the NHS should provide. A person who is 70 today can expect to live an extra decade compared with someone of the same age in the 1970s and over the next 25 years the number of over 60s will grow by 30% - those over 85 will double. Living longer is good news but increased older age will bring greater healthcare demands. There are 800,000 dementia suffers in the UK today, by 2021 there will be over a million. The same trajectory persists for diabetes and many other conditions. The increasing volume of ever more expensive and better drugs means we are spending 29% more on them than we were just 6 years ago. Despite these challenges the NHS is treating more people than ever. Last year there were 40% more operations compared with a decade ago. But if we are to meet future need we are going to have to continue to press hard on economic revival (to pay the bills) and look at how we can provide health services with ever greater efficiency. Much of this has informed debate about our local hospitals and I have been heavily involved over a long period in arguing the case for them and the beds within them. I have held regular discussions with the two CCGs that cover Central Devon. I have met with the League of Friends for Ashburton and Buckfastleigh, Okehampton, Bovey Tracey, Crediton and Moretonhampstead Hospitals. Received a delegation to Parliament. Held consultation meetings with GPs from the surgeries in Ashburton, Buckfastleigh and Okehampton as well as attending and speaking at a public consultation meeting in Buckfastleigh. I have lobbied the Secretary of State in person. I know the CCG’s decision on Ashburton & Buckfastleigh and Bovey hospitals has disappointed many, myself included. But what matters now is making sure that those decisions are implemented with an uncompromising focus on meeting local need. That the commitments to reducing bed blocking through greater support for care at home and local residential home provision along with embedding more healthcare services within our communities, preferably within the existing hospital sites, are fully delivered. Standing still will never be a viable option for healthcare - there are too many pressures coming down the line. We must now direct our energies to ensuring that our CCGs deliver on the promises that they have made to us all. That change leads to more and better care.