Five Year Forward View

Last week NHS England, along with other NHS organisations, published their independent “Five Year Forward View”, setting out their view of how the health service needs to change over the coming years.

This Forward View looked at how recent progress in the NHS can be built on. This progress has been considerable, with 2,500 more nurses; and 8,000 more doctors working in the NHS since 2010, helping to care for 1.3 million more outpatients and half a million more cancer patients.

The reforms have also made a real difference to Cornwall. I am pleased to have enabled the transfer of NHS budgets and decisions about how the money is spent to local family doctors that make up the new NHS Kernow. This devolution of decision making powers has been matched by increases in funding, secured by the Government’s decision to protect NHS spending within its long term economic plan. Funding for our NHS has been boosted by 4% in real terms since 2010, with areas underfunded during the Labour years, including Cornwall, being prioritised.

The Five Year Forward View makes some excellent recommendations as to what more can be done to support the NHS.

Recognising that people are living longer is the major challenge facing the NHS and the report charts a pioneering new approach to helping the increasing numbers of people needing help with long term health conditions. The Forward View argues that NHS should develop co-ordinated networks of care for individuals, tailored around their needs and delivered in their communities and, where possible, in their own home. I was delighted to see the Report cite work I have promoted that is led by Volunteer Cornwall and Age UK Cornwall that enables health and social care professionals and volunteers to work together so patients feel much happier and, crucially, healthier.

The Forward View puts a similar emphasis on organisations working together to prevent ill health from developing in the first place, calling for public health campaigns to reduce harmful behaviours like smoking and obesity to become an integral part of NHS operations. Again we have a real opportunity in this area. In 2012 the Government asked Cornwall Council and the NHS Cornwall to come together with public, private and voluntary sector partners to form the Cornwall Health and Wellbeing Board, tasked with drawing up joint strategies to improve health in Cornwall. This is precisely the sort of holistic, forward looking working that the Forward View says will be essential for the NHS to meet the needs of changing society.

NHS England make a further, essential, point. It stresses that decisions about the NHS will need to be taken ‘in the context of how the UK economy overall is performing’. You simply cannot divorce the need to secure our NHS from the need to grow our economy; it is the latter that enables the former. A thriving economy is the best guarantee we have of a thriving NHS, free at the point of use and delivering the high quality care we all desire.

Care in Cornwall

It is always a pleasure to visit the studio at the Royal Cornwall Hospital to catch up with the CHBN radio team who do such a great job of entertaining staff and patients. Two years ago I was delighted to help the CHBN team secure a Community Radio licence, allowing them to broadcast on FM across the Truro area. As the Government looks at ways to free up community radio stations from historic funding restrictions I look forward to helping CHBN radio further expand its operations.

I was in the studio earlier this month to discuss a subject very close to my heart, how we can best support carers. There are estimated to be 6.5 million unpaid carers across the UK. In addition to the incredible difference this makes to the lives of people living with ill health, this voluntary care saves the UK health system an estimated £119bn a year.

Our discussion at CHBN radio was timely for a week in which the Government announced that the earnings threshold for Carers’ Allowance will be raised to £110 a week. This change means that more people will have the opportunity to work part-time and still be eligible for the full £61.35 a week Carers’ Allowance.

This increase is welcome. In the words of David Cameron ‘giving up your own time to take care of someone else is one of the most selfless things that anyone can do’. We should do everything we can to support people who make this choice.

I have been working to boost this support. I am particularly pleased that a key 2010 Conservative Manifesto promise, stating that access to respite for carers would be increased, has been delivered despite the constraints of Coalition Government. £400 million has now been given to the NHS to enable carers to take more breaks from their caring responsibilities.

It was also good to serve on the Care Bill Committee, improving what became the Care Act to ensure that it delivered a better deal for carers. The final Act secured new rights for Carers, described by Carers UK, a charity I with whom I have served as Parliamentary Ambassador, as ‘by far the strongest rights for carers yet’. We can go further. It is great that over recent decades our society has grown more family friendly, with people being helped to balance bringing up their children with work, now we have to ensure similar flexibility and tailored support for those caring for older family members.

In Cornwall I have worked with the Cornwall Carer’s Service to help local people with caring responsibilities. Managed by the Cornwall Rural Community Council the Service provides support and advice to local carers and can be contacted on 01872 266 383. With the help of the Cornwall Carer’s Service I will be mailing out a copy of my updated ‘How to save money on your heating bills’ guide to 7000 local carers later this autumn. If you would like a copy please call my office on 01872 274 760.

Cornwall helps in the fight against ebola

Falmouth’s naval links have always been a source of great pride for all of us and this week is no exception. RFA Argus, the hospital ship whose home port is Falmouth, will be sailing from the town tomorrow bound for Sierra Leone. She will serve as the support vessel for a multi-million pound UK Government drive to halt the spread of the Ebola virus, which to date has caused over 4000 deaths, mainly in West Africa.

The UK support package will be spearheaded by 750 armed service personnel, who will help engineers to build new Ebola treatment centres and new Ebola training facilities for healthcare workers. Supported by £125 million of UK aid funding this UK drive will support 700 Ebola treatment beds, providing medical care up to 8,800 patients. Vital supplies, including chlorine and protective clothing for thousands of health workers, will also be provided.

RFA Argus, refitted last year by A&P Falmouth, is perfectly equipped to support this mission. On board there is a 70 bed hospital ward and a range of specialist medical facilities, including a full emergency department, resuscitation and surgical facilities, a radiology suite with a CT scanner, a critical care unit and a high dependency unit, all staffed by crew members from the MOD’s hospital units. The UK military mission is taking place alongside extensive work to prepare the UK for any possible outbreak.

As the UK steps up to the fight against Ebola is good to see the pride of Falmouth, in first class condition thanks to work of A&P employees, playing such a pivotal role. Our thoughts and prayers are with the crew and with their colleagues from the Army and RAF who will be deployed to Sierra Leone alongside them. I am humbled by their bravery.

The deployment of RFA Argus underlines the continuing strategic importance of the Port of Falmouth, matched only be the vital role the Port plays in Cornwall’s economy. I was delighted to visit RFA Argus several times during its refit to see first-hand the first class work being undertaken by A&P Falmouth, I regularly highlight this excellent work to Minister as I continue to lobby for and secure further MoD contracts for the Port.

It also further demonstrates how Britain cannot afford to turn its back on the developing world in a globalised 21st century. Those arguing against the international aid commitments David Cameron has made as Prime Minister often suggest that this spending is not in a national interest. Nothing is further from the truth. In a world where ideas and finance cross oceans at the click of computer mouse, where 500, 000 people are travelling by air at any given moment and where international trading links are growing more and more important, emerging problems in the developing world are tomorrow’s domestic disasters. Aid is an important way in which the UK can work with the governments of developing countries to head off these problems at birth, generating international goodwill and securing a better shared future for all.

My Vision for 2020

Over the recent Party Conference season we have seen the UK’s political parties start to lay out their stalls to the nation.

Given this national focus on the years ahead I think it is right to let you know what more I want to do to build a brighter future for our own community.

I am very clear as to what I want for my constituents over the coming years. I want you to feel Cornwall is the best place to raise a family and grow old in. I want your income to rise so you can do more of the things you want to do, and for you to have access to great education and employment opportunities. And I want to ensure that our natural environment is looked after for future generations to enjoy.

How can this be achieved? By helping local employers create more jobs that pay at least a Cornish Living Wage, by ensuring that there are more apprenticeships, further and higher education and skills opportunities available to people of all ages looking to secure employment in a changing global workplace. By using the proceeds of this sustainable economic growth to create a fairer tax system, whereby people on average incomes keep more of their own money, and by ensuring that Cornwall’s NHS and other public services are fairly funded. By ensuring that more decisions about Cornwall are made in Cornwall and that we have the resources we need to improve our Duchy’s infrastructure.

Cornwall’s ‘Can Do’ spirit has achieved great things and I am confident that, if re-elected, I will be able to deliver my positive vision for Truro and Falmouth. To read my full vision for our community visit my website

I was delighted to see David Cameron in his Conference Speech passionately commit to implementing a positive vision on a national scale. From the tax cuts that will take a further 3 million of the lowest paid out of income tax and mean a tax cut for 30 million people on medium incomes, to English votes for English laws and a referendum on EU membership, this is a radical agenda which empowers us all to build better futures. Better and more equal futures, the tax cuts David Cameron has already delivered have helped reduce inequality in the UK to its lowest point since the 1990’s. The Prime Minister’s pledge to continue to protect NHS spending, on top of the Better Care funding pledged for next year, and the commitment to build on the 2 million new jobs created since 2010 by securing full employment, were also particularly welcome. These measures will be essential to delivering the positive future I want to see for Truro and Falmouth.

This vision, focused on helping people get on and grounded in a keen appreciation of our historic community and landscape, is one that is both distinctively Conservative and distinctly Cornish. I will continue working every day to deliver it, for the people I am privileged to serve.

The decision to attack ISIS

Last week I voted in favour of British armed forces taking part in military action in Iraq. These are not easy words to write.

In taking my decision I considered closely the views of local people, along with all the available evidence about the situation on the ground. This consideration led me to cast my vote in favour of military action because of one overriding factor: ISIS poses a very real threat to my constituents, a threat that British military action can help eradicate.

Some people will scoff at the idea that developments thousands of miles away under a blazing desert sun could pose a threat us here in Cornwall. I wish I could scoff too, but I can’t.

ISIS is now a de facto state, controlling a territory the size of Britain. It is a state funded by extensive oil supplies and internationally sourced funding, one armed with modern weapons and expert in the use of terror in its own territories and overseas. It is a state whose one purpose is to impose its violent ideology on others by military means. It ranks Britain as one its foremost targets, and has prophesied that in a matter of years its black flag will fly over Downing Street. Their hatred of the west predates George Bush’s wars, ISIS was founded in 1999. It is only since the Syrian civil war that they have grown powerful enough to put their ideology into action.

As David Cameron said in the House of Commons last week ISIS has declared war on us. As such there is no ‘walk on by’ option.

Of course ISIS isn’t just a threat to Britain. Whilst the threat posed to the UK is a sustained terrorist campaign on the British mainland, for the democratically elected Iraqi Government and the people it serves ISIS represents an invading army, killing all who oppose it. This is why the Iraqi Government have formally asked for Britain and other countries to help defend its people.

Britain is one of a Coalition of countries that have responded to this call in the knowledge that if ISIS take Iraq then the misery and horror they will inflict there will soon spread yet further. It is important to note that the majority of this Coalition is formed by Muslim nations. Thousands of Muslims have been killed to date by ISIS, which has been dubbed the Unislamic State by the international Islamic community. Christians living in ISIS controlled areas have also been savagely attacked. We owe it to our own Christian and Muslim communities to take arms to support their persecuted brethren.

This is not 2003. British forces are being committed at the request of a people under attack from a hateful movement that threatens all of us. This threat will grow if not stopped now. With their deployment backed by the overwhelming majority of the House of Commons it is now to our service men and women we look, with respect, gratitude and prayers for their safe journeys home.