Local GPs are the backbone of the health service. I know from my work in Government, the correspondence I receive, and personal experience, the dedication shown by them.
Last month I attended the annual meeting of the patients’ of the Red House GP surgery. Red House’s network serves over 20,000 patients and is a vital community asset for our area. It was a pleasure to speak to them and answer their questions about the future of healthcare.
There are serious pressures on the health system and challenges ahead. There will be a million more people over seventy in 2020 than in 2015 and our services must also adapt to the pressures from mental health, improved cancer care and more advanced treatments.
Coping with this extra demand is something I have worked on as your MP, campaigning both locally and nationally for improvements. The Government has committed £10 billion in new funding for the NHS since last November – building on the extra funding already allocated since 2010. However, for the NHS to work effectively we need to move away from ad-hoc top-ups to its budget towards a sustainable long-term plan.
A major reform programme, the Five Year Forward View, is underway. The aim of this is to reshape services to focus on prevention not cure, reduce the cost of procuring drugs and technology, increase training places so we have enough doctors and nurses, digitising services and changing working practices to help retain staff. Equally, the Government will shortly be setting out its approach to integrating health and social care.
This year we celebrate the NHS’ 70th birthday. It has always been there for me and my family - I will continue to work to support it and make sure our community has the services it needs.