Steve Double makes the case for community hospitals as part of STP feedback

Steve Double, Member of Parliament for St Austell and Newquay, has submitted feedback as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) strongly supporting community hospitals in Mid-Cornwall.

In his letter to the NHS, Steve writes:

‘There has been a great deal of coverage in the various mediums with regards to the threat of Community Hospitals in the STP consultation process.

Whilst I appreciate that everything needs to be under scrutiny with regards to NHS services in order to ensure the best use of resources, I do believe that the continued provision for community hospitals needs to be seriously considered.

It is surely important that we look at the whole range of NHS provision in Cornwall and ensure that they all work together to ensure the more efficient delivery across Cornwall. There is little point in making changes or cutting services to save money in one area if the outcome is simply adding more pressure and costs on another.

Before making this submission I have taken time to meet and talk with a number of different people and I believe the views I express here are shared by the vast majority of local residents who I represent.

Fowey Hospital has been closed since the middle of last year. I am led to believe that the reasons for closure have been resolved but it has subsequently failed to reopen. This must undoubtedly put pressure on St Austell Hospital and subsequently RCHT.

Although I accept that the hospital at Fowey was rarely actually used to accommodate local residents, it is still a valuable facility for the NHS in Mid- Cornwall. I would strongly urge that everything possible is done to re-open this hospital as soon as possible. I would then be keen to work with all stakeholders to find the best way forward for a sustainable future for this site.

Concerns have also been expressed about the future of Newquay Hospital. Although I have been led to believe that there is no real immanent threat to the hospital I want to place on record that I believe this service is absolutely vital and should be maintained. Not only does the hospital provide a vital local service for local residents, but the Minor Injuries Unit is vital in treating the hundreds of thousands of tourists that come to the area every year. If this facility were to be closed it would add untold pressure to the already creaking RCHT.

Thought needs to be given to relieving pressure off the one major hospital in Cornwall. I believe it is time for a radical rethink of the centralised approach to health care. I am of the view that Community Hospitals have a key part to play, particularly in the light of the geography of Cornwall, and their role should be enhanced rather than being under threat of closure.

I don’t believe it is all simply about lack of funding – we have seen the funding for health services in Cornwall steady increase in recent years and it is scheduled to continue rising. Whilst more money would of course be welcome and I will continue to make the case for extra funding for health services in Cornwall, the current situation is also a result of inconsistent leadership and failure to adequately plan for the future.’

Commenting, Steve said:

“In all things. I believe it is important to plan for the future. I am aware of challenges and pressures that face our NHS. It is right that all NHS services across Cornwall are in scope to be part of the full review process as part of the consultation for the STP, so we can ensure we get best value for money from them and they operate to the best of their abilities.”

“I am pleased that this Government has increased funding for the NHS in real terms and is set to continue to increase the funding going forward. In Cornwall this is also the case. For example, since the creation of NHS Kernow it has had a real terms increase in funding every year, which is projected to continue until at least 2020.”

“However the funding needs to be spent well and the service fit to meet the demands our population place on it. Just throwing money at a problem won’t necessarily make it go away.”

“Savings need to be made. While, along with my Cornish MP colleagues I will continue to press for more funding, the NHS in Cornwall does need to live within its means. The current deficit it has is in my view caused by mismanagement which led to an overspend of £57m in just this last year.”

“I am pleased that the STP is an open consultation where the pubic have a chance to have their say.”

“Although I have been unable to attend the public meetings in St Austell and Newquay that have taken place so far, due to having to be in Parliament when they took place, a member of my team did go on my behalf. I also meet regularly with NHS and Cornwall Council management and will ensure local people’s views are heard and fight for the very best outcome for St Austell and Newquay.”

“I believe community hospitals play a crucial role in providing health care that is accessible for all. This is why I have chosen to feedback my strong support for them as part of the STP process. I will do all I can to maintain our current services should there be any plans to cut them.”