I received some brilliant news today as Derriford Hospital announced that their bid for an Emergency Department upgrade has been successful.
When I visited A&E with Chief Executive Ann James in August we spoke about Derriford’s bid for the money announced today and I’m absolutely thrilled for the hospital team that they secured this. Credit to the cross party political support across the city that helped make this happen.
While today is a good day for Derriford, I also want us to be realistic about the major challenges ahead for healthcare in our city.
The Conservative Government has had to delay its so-called Long Term Plan for the NHS because of the Brexit chaos they created, and this is only going to create further problems for the already overstretched healthcare system here in Plymouth.
Today’s national front pages are filled with headlines about millions of patients waiting more than three weeks for a GP, and the head of the NHS telling the Conservative Government that he doesn’t have the money needed for a proper long term approach.
To stop today’s money being nothing more than a sticking plaster for the city’s wounds, we must now urgently address our other health challenges.
Derriford had a difficult Care Quality Commission report in the summer and faces a structural deficit of millions. The dedicated staff there do a great job, but they need support, and the Government must properly boost long term funding and invest in NHS staff.
To tackle the Tory NHS crisis in our city, I want to see six areas addressed in the Tory Government’s so-called Long Term Plan for the NHS.
Firstly, I want to see nursing bursaries reinstated because we just don’t have enough nurses in the UK, with 40,000 vacancies across the country and too many being put off a career in nursing.
Secondly, we need to tackle staff retention in the NHS. It is only the goodwill of staff that is holding our NHS together at the moment, but we are facing some serious issues with low morale and difficult working conditions, and pay cuts have not helped with that.
We also need to do far more on meeting cancer targets, as it is an area where we have fallen behind at a local level, and I also want to campaign for a young person’s cancer fund.
More generally, waiting times have once again become a serious issue under the Tories as targets are consistently failing to be met, something that just wasn’t happening under the previous Labour Government.
Next, we need to address the lack of a smooth transition from those in hospital into social care. There are too many beds not being freed up simply because people aren’t able to get home or into a comfortable environment, and this has been made even worse by huge cuts to local Government funding.
Finally, and perhaps most urgently, we must address the primary care crisis in Plymouth.
GP leaders are telling me that we are on the brink of collapse in this city, with a huge number of vacancies and patients simply unable to get appointments when they need them.
With those kinds of issues it is not surprising that we are seeing so much pressure on our NHS, and I will continue to campaign for far better resources to ensure that we can deliver the services that Plymouth so desperately needs.