In recent months, the NHS has featured heavily in the national news. The pressures on social care, the unprecedented numbers of people turning to A&E, the ways in which the arms of the NHS work together for patients; all of these have drastic implications on the future of health service provision in the UK and all contribute to the concern that the NHS is in crisis.
Arguments about the NHS often become polarised and simplified. But the answer to these issues is far more complex than just spending more money. There are cultural changes needed at management levels throughout the NHS, and the Government needs to support this change if it is to safeguard the future of a 'free at point of use' health service.
So what can be done to help fix these current problems? On a national level, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee which I Chair, is encouraging the Government to make significant changes to the way complaints and clinical incidents are investigated and learned from. Far too many mistakes in the NHS are allowed to happen over and over again. Complaints are, at their heart, an opportunity to learn from mistakes. As an MP, so often when constituents contact me after bad experiences with the NHS, they make clear they simply do not want what they experienced to happen to anyone else. Aside from this, the costs or litigation against the NHS is now measured in billions of pounds. Tackling this issue of management will provide a safer, patient-focused service while saving money to spend elsewhere in the NHS.
On a local level, I am working closely with our local NHS Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to bring improvements to health care in Essex. One current discussion surrounds the future of minor injuries and urgent care in North Essex. I am making the case that the walk in centre close to the Colchester Hospital should be used to triage non-life threatening cases attending A&E, freeing up staff for genuine emergencies and allow ambulance drivers to get back on the road to call-outs. I have made this suggestion in my submission to the CCG''s urgent care consultation and would encourage all the residents of the North Essex area to also make their views known. Submissions can be made on the CCG's own website at http://www.neessexccg.nhs.uk/ under the Urgent Care Review section.