Early last month David Cameron made an important pledge that by 2020 a Conservative government would deliver access to a family doctor seven days a week, and that surgeries would be open for twelve hours each day to relieve pressure on our hospitals. I think this is really good news and will especially help those who cannot get out of work on a week day to go and see their GP. The details need to be worked out and lessons learnt from a recent trial but it is clearly a project that holds huge potential.
The announcement builds on what is already being done by the Government to protect funding for the NHS and make sure that despite difficult economic circumstances it remains free at the point of need. Whilst difficult spending cuts have had to be made in other areas over the course of this Parliament not only has spending been protected for the NHS it has also been increased by £12.7 billion.
This is a huge increase that has allowed the hiring of thousands more doctors, nurses and midwives to look after patients and has also been helped by reforms to cut the numbers of managers and bureaucracy we saw under the last government. There have also been other successful initiatives, like the £1.16 billion Cancer Drugs Fund now administered by the NHS helping over fifty thousand cancer patients since it was set up four years ago.
There has also been some important extra money that has been awarded for new NHS services in Cornwall. In our area this is being spent on a much needed expansion to include a minor injuries unit at the Camborne and Redruth Community Hospital and the creation of doctor-led urgent care centres at the same hospital.
Of course more needs to be done and we especially need to make sure we help those who work tirelessly in our hospitals and surgeries. I recently raised the issue of new staff parking charges at Treliske Hospital with the Chief Executive following changes that are seeing some staff with an increase of almost 300% in what they are paying to park at work. Discussions are still ongoing but we need to find a sensible solution.
There has also been a lot of speculation over the future of St Michael’s Hospital in Hayle with rumours of its imminent closure. St Michael’s is a much valued and popular hospital and when I discussed these concerns with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust it was clear they plan to invest more into it and make it better still, not close it. We should not allow rumours to undermine morale at such a community institution and instead we should support plans to improve the services they offer.
George Eustice can be contacted at email@example.com or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032