Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Newspaper column 20 December 2017 - Changes to Cornwall's NHS

Parliament will soon be rising for the Christmas Recess and I am looking forward to spending time at home with my family and friends.
There has been quite a lot of coverage recently about the proposals brought forward to change the way in which NHS services are run in Cornwall, with the setting up of an Accountable Care Organisation (ACO), introducing stakeholders such as Cornwall Council to the NHS management system.
Certain political parties have been quick to jump on the ‘this is privatisation’ bandwagon – once again turning our NHS into a political football. It is sad that the Labour Party in particular want to play politics with the NHS rather than work constructively to improve it. Instead they criticise the way the NHS is run now, as well as all new ideas put forward to help make it sustainable in the future.   
I should clarify that the ACO that is proposed is not a wholesale takeover by Cornwall Council of the NHS in Cornwall. It will create a management board with council involvement, as well as other stakeholders similar to the former Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Health Authority which ran from 1974-2002. People have been talking about the need to integrate health and social care in Cornwall for a long time and this is one possible way to achieve this.
It is certainly right and proper that the proposals to create an ACO are scrutinised by Cornwall Council and I support their setting up of a cross-party Inquiry Panel to do this.
I will continue to work with all involved to safeguard the future of community hospitals in Mid-Cornwall, continuing on from the submission I made to the STP on their importance to our communities.
It is important to remember that the ACO proposed for Cornwall is not unprecedented. For example there is already one further along the process in Greater Manchester that is being led by the Labour Council that sits there.
My commitment remains for an NHS that is free at the point of use. What matters the most apart from this is that the service available is fit for purpose and works well for the people who have to use it, as well as being good value for the public purse. How this is delivered would be down to the NHS, stakeholders such as Cornwall Council, and those who deliver the services.
May I take this opportunity to wish all readers a very Happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.

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