The second of my three articles on the NHS. This article focuses on GP services, the local Clinical Commissioning Group, and mental healthcare campaigns I have supported.
The Clinical Commissioning Group and GP services
The local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is the NHS body which “buys” the healthcare on behalf of local GPs. They aim to secure more health services for local people in their communities. This is an ongoing campaign, and sometimes an uphill battle due to the financial pressures on the CCG. The real loser here has been the Harwich peninsula. My third article on the NHS focuses entirely on Harwich, so please read that for further details.
The budget pressures at the CCG are, again, not simply a matter of having more money thrown at the problem. Why is our CCG in such a difficult situation financially, and what can be done to fix this?
I helped secure an acknowledgement from the heads of the NHS that GP funding in North Essex and been historically below where it should be. In this Parliament, I will be pressing the Government to act on this and address the imbalance by providing more money for GP services in Essex.
But the budgetary pressure our CCG faces is even greater than other Essex-based CCGs. This is because of the devastating impact of the Labour Party’s Private Finance Initiatives. These funding deals were used to build medical facilities, like the Fryatt Hospital, at unbelievably high interest rates and on very inflexible contracts. This means it costs too much to provide services at these buildings. We have the most amazing hospital in Harwich but it is so expensive to provide services there, the NHS keeps taking them away. This legacy of the Labour Party in the 90s and 2000s continues to cripple the local NHS budget. In this Parliament, I will be pressing the Government to find a way to get these Labour loans off of the NHS’s books, so that local services stop suffering.
I have worked closely with GP practices and have campaigned successfully to secure funding for new GP buildings for both the Wivenhoe and Mersea Island practices. Local residents will be all too familiar with these long-running campaigns and I will keep up the pressure to ensure that new buildings will be ready in the coming years.
Having campaigned on mental healthcare for years (I fought to stop the NHS closing down The Haven in Colchester), I am so pleased that the Conservative Party has pledged to shake up the system and provide more funding for mental health. The local mental healthcare trust has long been in a difficult situation, and recent changes in its structure provide an opportunity to seize on the Conservative Party’s pledges and improve local services drastically. I will keep fighting for more local mental healthcare services locally, and will not stop campaigning until mental health issues are given the same regard, funding and treatment as physical illnesses.