Thursday, 4 December 2014
This week George Osborne delivered his last Autumn Statement before the General Election and promised a big boost in funding for both the NHS and transport infrastructure across the South West. Cornwall in particular will benefit from these changes and while the Autumn Statement can be thought of as a mini budget, what is clear is that we could not afford these new investments if we hadn't taken the difficult decisions a few years ago to get the country's economy back on its feet.
The first bit of good news for Cornwall is the announcement the Government has promised to invest £180 million to upgrade the A30 over the next five years. Because we are on a peninsula at the far west of the country, good roads are vital to our economy. The single stretch of carriageway at Temple is a notorious bottleneck and I am really pleased at the news that work to dual this section of the A30 will begin as early as March 2015.
The Government has also announced plans to begin drawing up proposals to improve the A30 between Carland and Chiverton Cross, with the aim to have it opened to traffic by 2020. This is a big step forward in developing our local transport infrastructure as many constituents have contacted me over the years expressing their concerns about how congested the road can become over the summer and I know the announced work will make a huge difference to the area.
Alongside transport spending, the Government has also protected the NHS. Over the life of this parliament, the NHS budget has been increased by £12.5 billion and the Chancellor has just announced a further £2 billion in healthcare funding for frontline NHS services every year. The news will be especially welcome as we go in to winter, a time of year when the NHS comes under maximum pressure.
Across the South West there are now 500 more doctors looking after patients than there were five years ago. In Cornwall, funding for the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissions health services in Camborne and Redruth, has increased by more than £14.3 million this year alone with an additional £11.6 million again next year. There are also plans to increase provision at the Camborne and Redruth Community Hospital at Barncoose to include a minor injuries unit and a doctor led urgent care centre.
We have some exceptionally dedicated people working in our NHS. However, as medical science advances and people live longer, the pressures on the health service and the cost of providing it increase accordingly. Those working in the NHS still have their work cut out, so it is good to see this additional money to support the great work they do.