The third of my three articles on the NHS, this time focusing on the challenges in Harwich and my ongoing campaigns to keep and bring services to the area.
Supporting the NHS in Harwich has been a real uphill battle, and I have no intention of giving up on this! Ask in Harwich about the NHS services available to them and they will all talk about the under use of the Fryatt Hospital. I explained in my second article on the NHS why the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has taken so many services away from the Fryatt.
I have been involved in many campaigns to secure health services for Harwich. First, the Harwich Health Forums which I convened after the 2010 election, specifically aimed at getting the decision-makers around the table to commit to more services in Harwich. This meeting was the first sign of how tough a challenge this would be, especially given the rent costs at the hospital.
I worked hard on the maternity service campaign, meeting the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive and making clear to him that expecting mothers in Harwich should not be made to travel to Colchester, when a top notch facility like the Fryatt was on their doorstep. The campaign was unsuccessful, and I shared the frustration of local residents that they were having yet another service taken away.
Now, I am campaigning to keep the Minor Injuries Unit in Harwich. The town must not lose this service. I have long pressed our local NHS leaders to find a way to make more use of the hospital. The argument put forward for the removal of some maternity services was due to an underuse of the facility. This is simply not the case for the Minor Injuries Unit. This is a well-used, important service which eases pressure from both our A&E service, and the local GP practices. I have made the case to the decision-makers that the unit must not go, as this would be nonsensical, and lead to greater costs in the NHS. It would also go against the wishes of every resident of Harwich I have spoken to. I will continue to campaign on this and I will not take ‘no’ for an answer. The Harwich Minor Injuries Unit must stay open.
I am as determined as ever to get the local NHS organisations to bring more services to Harwich. In this Parliament, I will continue to call fresh meetings between the key decision-makers from CHUFT, the CCG and the Anglia Community Enterprise, to secure a joined up approach in getting to grips with this issue once and for all. Services must not be taken away from Harwich.