West Briton column 28 November 2013 – local health services

Having grown up in Cornwall and living here with my own family, makes me appreciate the need for high quality local health services all the more. Ensuring that local people have access to the best possible healthcare remains at the top of my priorities list.

Some good progress is being made. This week I was pleased to attend the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sepsis and to accept the role of Co-Chair. The group, working with the Sepsis Trust UK, will encourage earlier detection and better treatment of this condition, which could save up to 10,000 lives every year. I have also been working with the Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust and local charity the Invictus Trust to secure better mental health support for young people in Cornwall; chairing a public meeting earlier this month to develop plans for a new Cornish young person’s support and care centre. An exciting opportunity to secure funding from the National Lottery to further enhance local services has now also arisen and I will be working with both Trust’s to ensure that this money is spent in Cornwall on improving the wellbeing of local young people.

At a national level I am encouraged by the Government’s decision last week to publish a package of measures designed to ensure that patients going into NHS hospitals can be confident that they will receive high quality care. The measures act on recommendations made in a report published by Sir Robert Francis, looking at how failings and unnecessary patient deaths were allowed to take place at an NHS hospital in Staffordshire.

At the heart of Sir Robert’s recommendations, and the measures now announced by the Health Secretary, is the need for patients to be compassionately cared for by a dedicated team of health professionals, not treated as an anonymous strain on hospital resources that needs to be moved on by the system. From next year every hospital patient will have the names of the responsible consultant and nurse above their bed, medical professionals dedicated to the patient and their welfare. The Healthcare assistants who do such valuable work in assisting with this care will now benefit from a new qualification, recognising and honing the skills they have and centering compassion at the heart of their role.

Members of the public will from April be able to see how their local hospital is doing in delivering high quality compassionate care. Every month the number of staff on each ward will be published online with guidance on whether these numbers breach safety guidance. NHS Managers have promised to recruit up to 4000 new nurses next year, the new online figures will allow us all to see how this pledge is being delivered locally. Similarly quarterly data on the complaints an individual hospital has received, and how those complaints were dealt with, will now be publicly available.

These changes aim to help local NHS staff to do what they do best – provide first class care to local people in need.