Last Updated: 31 January 2020
Created: 31 January 2020
Today we will leave the EU, delivering on our promise to the British people to get Brexit done and usher in a decade of renewal. We have taken back control of our borders, laws and money, and will once again have an independent trade policy. This is a fantastic opportunity for our country. The deadlock has been broken, and we can once again focus on the issues that matter: the NHS, schools, trade, tackling crime and the environment.
Last week I was able to invite Swindon CCG Chair Dr Sarah Bruen and her colleague Dr Amanda Webb to personally meet with the Secretary of State for Health. This was a hugely positive discussion, where we discussed a variety of projects / opportunities to help deliver improvements in Swindon. Locally, they shared their first-hand experience of the recent IMH Surgery challenges, and how the transfer of these GP Surgeries to new local providers has been delivered. I am very grateful for all their work and support throughout this very challenging time was vital to delivering the new provision, which already is significantly improved. We also discussed: Primary Care, reducing constraints to encourage innovation, GP retention and the importance of public health and preventative medicine.
This was a timely visit as this week, we passed the NHS Funding Bill. This sets out our NHS Long Term Plan (LTP), which included the £33.9bn budget increase, which is the biggest cash increase in the history of the NHS. This will be focused on our growing NHS workforce, improving technology and health inequalities.
The LTP is establishing a focus on prevention, not just curing illness. In addition to existing health campaigns, new screening methods will include earlier testing for bowel cancer, more targeted screening, and the establishment of Rapid Access Diagnostic Centres to enable doctors to give a diagnosis on the same day as testing. The aim is that, in 10 years’ time, 55,000 more people will survive cancer each year, and 100,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases will have been prevented.
As part of the plan to promote prevention, there will be an increased focus on primary and community services, increasing funding by £4.5bn per year by 2023/2024. Prevention will help to reduce demand on hospital services, which continues to rise – up 28% in the last decade alone. Already steps have been taken to promote the ‘Pharmacy First’ protocol which encourages people to speak with a pharmacist about minor ailments or problems which can be solved with over-the-counter medicine instead of making an appointment with a GP.
In order to deliver these wide-ranging improvements, there will be a need to recruit more staff in all aspects of the health service. At the election we promised 6,000 more GPs, 50,000 more nurses and 6,000 more Primary Care Professionals. The NHS should be an employer of choice, offering flexible contracts and pensions, helping to improve retention – as well as opportunities for better training and support for career progression.
Local health provision and services are a real priority for Robert Buckland MP and I, so we will continue to press for Swindon’s share of this increased funding, building on the £30m secured to expand our A&E at the GWH, £15m for a new Radiotherapy Centre and the money for new cancer testing and detection technology.