This week over the skies of West Cornwall, a new baby was born en-route to Treliske hospital after his mother went into labour while on the Isles of Scilly. There was no midwife on the islands so midwife Linda Benson was picked up and travelled with the coastguard to run a special mission.
The NHS is a great British institution which all of us will rely on it at some point in our lives. The many hard-working nurses and doctors who contribute to this success have a lot of be proud of. Locally across Cornwall we are fortunate to have a number of excellent hospitals delivering high quality care to those who need it most. From St Michael's Hospital, which is already a national leader in breast surgery, to Camborne and Redruth Hospital which has a number of specialisms including stroke and prosthetics, residents have access to some of the best care possible.
Periodically there are scare stories about the future of St Michael's which is unsettling for staff and unfair. The truth is very different. St Michael’s hospital is helping more people than ever. According to the Friends of St Michael’s, the hospital already delivers over 95 percent of all breast cancer operations in Cornwall, about 1200 operations a year which is an extraordinary feat. A few years ago, I met some of the team who lead on this work and they are exceptionally talented, and renowned nationally for the quality of their care and expertise.
The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust has also recently announced additional funding at St Michaels to expand the work that it does on orthopaedic care and increase the number of people cared for at hospital in Hayle. For a number of years, it has been clear that there is capacity to do more at St Michael's and there were concerns two years ago that too much orthopaedic work was being centralised at Trelsike which is already under pressure and stretched to capacity. This change of approach with more done in Hayle should help tackle patient delay for operations, reduce cancellations and shorten the average length of stay as well as releasing space at Treliske.
The improvements will also see the Trust increase the percentage of planned orthopaedic procedures at St Michael’s Hospital from the existing 69% to over 90% - more than 500 cases more per year by 2019. Treliske has had some difficult times in recent years but St Michael’s Hospital has been rated ‘Outstanding’ for caring by the Care Quality Commission and this investment by the Trust will help to build on this reputation and ensure all patients get excellent care.
The story of investment across the local level is also being matched by that on the national level. Recently the Government announced that it will increase NHS funding by almost £400 million a week - more than £20 billion a year - by 2023/24 as part of a historic long-term funding plan for the NHS. While there will always be some challenges facing our NHS given the size of the organisation and its complexity, we should recognise its achievements and celebrate the good news that. The work done at St Michael's continues to be one of the positive stories about our local NHS.