Health cuts debate

Having got my son kitted up and ready to start high school, it was time for me to head back to Westminster.

On Tuesday I was straight into the thick of it, with my debate on all of the cuts to health services in North Derbyshire at 6pm, and afternoon interviews with the BBC and ITV.

Having visited GP surgeries over the summer, met with Stepping Hill Hospital, liaised with volunteer organisations in High Peak who are facing huge cuts, spoken at length with Healthwatch Derbyshire about their concerns, I have heard the scale of cuts across so many areas.

It is not just voluntary sector services such as community transport, befriending and shopping services, and the emergency overnight care service that are at risk.

We’ve already seen Spencer Ward closed, a great loss to people with dementia and their carers.  Fenton Ward, where patients go for rehabilitation after a stay in hospital is also due to lose more than half of its beds – even though there is a constant waiting list for its beds.

Across Derbyshire, Bakewell and Bolsover hospitals have closed wards and a further 84 beds are due to be lost.

These cuts will lead to more patients having to stay in hospital for longer, costing the health service more.

It is the same more many of the other cuts.  The cut to opening hours at Buxton’s Minor Injuries Unit saw an immediate increase in patients at A&E in Stepping Hill.

Constituents have told me how proposed cuts to short stays for people with severe learning disabilities may lead to their parents being unable to cope with their care any longer, and needing full-time residential care.

Having spoken at length with the heads of the Clinical Commissioning Groups, I know that no one wants to make these cuts, but they are being forced by the stringent demands for £51 million of cuts to be made by March next year.

The minister replied that he agreed that voluntary services were good value for money and “those services should not be the first line of call when seeking efficiencies”, which message I will pass on to the CCGs.

He also stated there would be “a further round of engagement and consultation with the local communities, local authorities, patients, GPs and other stakeholders” before cuts to the voluntary sector took place.

I shall be writing to query this as the final decision is due this month, but I’ll be delighted if we have secured some further time to properly look at the benefits of our excellent voluntary services.

Thank you to everyone who’s been in touch and I’ll keep on fighting for all our health services.

You can watch the debate in full here.