The NHS is a priority issue for many of us in Bolton and I know that local residents take an interest in its long term future.
I have been contacted by a large number of constituents who feel incredibly let down by the Government’s recent announcement of a ten year plan for the NHS. There are a range of issues with the plan, but the one people are contacting me about is waiting times. There is no clear commitment in the plans to reduce waiting times either through improved funding or policy direction.
I share these concerns. It’s clear that more needs to be done in a wide variety of areas. I have recently been lobbying the Government to improve capacity in cancer testing because demand is predicted to increase in future years. Even if we get more people a quick referral we will miss the benefit of that if testing delays diagnosis.
When A&E departments across the country are overcrowded it highlights a range of issues that need to be addressed in health. We can remove some of the pressure by improving access to GPs and alternative treatment facilities like walk-in centres.
Social care for older residents is extremely important as well, if people are not properly supported in the community they are more likely to end up in hospital which is not in their interests and also increases waiting times for others.
Mental health patients often face incredibly long waits for even basic treatment, pushing people into crisis and driving them to emergency services.
The Government’s plan promises to break the NHS’s dependency on hospital care but the support isn’t there for these other areas. It doesn’t work in isolation.
All of these issues and more should be looked at in any long term NHS planning.
Please be assured that I will continue to support our NHS and promote effective, integrated health policy that is driven by patient needs. I have written to the Health Secretary on behalf my constituents to raise concerns about waiting times.