I believe we should have as much transparency as possible in our public services, especially when cuts are being made.
That was why I held a public meeting with the High Peak Police Inspector last month, and last Thursday on our NHS services at New Mills Town Hall.
Seven panellists represented the wide range of NHS providers, including North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (who commission most local health services), East Midlands Ambulances, local GPs, a Mental Health Practitioner and UNISON representative for NHS staff, and the former Director of Public Health for High Peak.
The message from all the panellists was that local services are seeing cuts across the board, and problems with recruitment as staff are stretched. Problems in social care are causing extra work for the NHS – with hospital beds taken up, and time from GPs and District Nurses – which ends up costing the NHS much more.
Our audience of over 60 people raised a wide range of issues and concerns. From ambulance delays to the lack of support for people with mental health illnesses, and cuts to routine surgical operations.
Locally, there was overwhelming support for NHS and care staff, and real appreciation of the value of the walk-in centre at New Mills was made clear to Dr Austin of the Clinical Commissioning Group, who confirmed there were no plans to change that excellent service.
I was delighted that East Midlands Ambulance Service has just been able to secure a further £19 million, for which they had thanked me for my role in assisting them, and I hope we will soon see improvements to ambulance delays in High Peak.
Real concern was raised about the problems recruiting GPs and nurses. A Student Nurse in the audience described how she would never have been able to do her course without the bursary as she had a young child to support. A young carer said she would have loved to train for nursing but could not do so without a bursary.
There are 15650 fewer nurses in training since bursaries were abolished two years ago, and around 10,000 EU nationals have quit the NHS since the vote to leave the European Union, we need to train more British nurses than ever.
The key messages I took from the meeting were the recruitment problems, concern about creeping privatisation and lack of mental health provision. These are all issues I am working on and the additional evidence was very useful.
We filmed the meeting and the video will be posted on my website. I’ll be holding meetings in Glossop on 5th July and in Buxton when plans for the new hospital are clearer. Please contact me with any queries or concerns on our local services – I am working with them all.