Westminster Life: Real challenges facing the NHS

Peterborough City Hospital, Bretton. Photo: Peterborough Telegraph

Peterborough City Hospital, Bretton. Photo: Peterborough Telegraph

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In the last few weeks, we have seen real challenges facing both the NHS and our local Peterborough City Hospital.

Despite the extra £700m made available, the huge increase in people who have attended A&E this winter has been beyond any expectations.

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Stewart Jackson MP's Westminster Life column in the Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

In Peterborough, PCH is experiencing its busiest time ever.

A decision was reluctantly taken to delay non-urgent operations at the City Hospital after a 10% rise in people attending A&E in December, compared to last year.

We need to look at why problems are arising and what we action must be taken.

Labour’s cynical talk of “weaponising” the NHS for political advantage really is an insult to patients in need and the best traditions of compassionate care in the NHS.

The fact is that we have an increasingly ageing population - there are 1 million more people aged 65 and over living in the UK than this time last year.

In the Peterborough area, the number of over 85s is due to increase by 15% in the next 5 years. This is why we were right to increase funding by £12.7bn – its highest ever total.

We have recruited 8,000 newly trained doctors, 5,000 nurses and 1,200 A&E doctors, all helping to deliver an extra 1 million more operations a year.

We must continue to prioritise NHS funding to match the ageing population and as the economy grows we will can continue to increase funding and rightly so.

The limited opening hours of GP surgeries often leave people with seemingly no choice but to use A&E out of hours.

We’re seeking to address this problem with an additional £1.2 billion funding to extend the GP surgeries opening hours.

We need to push for co-location of a GP Surgery within hospitals.

Then, anybody who turns up at A&E who doesn’t need to be there, can be redirected to the surgery, thus alleviating the knock-on pressure.

Too often remaining in hospital is currently the only option for predominantly older and vulnerable people post treatment.

We have to do more to improve our outpatient care. That is why from April 1st we will be investing £5bn on the Better Care Fund to bring together health bodies and local authorities to address this - an extra £47m in 2015/16 for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough area, a vital step.

As your elected MP and a local resident myself, I will continue to do all I can to support our fantastic local doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals.

Elsewhere we were all horrified to see the events in Paris unfold last Wednesday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the French people, and especially to those who lost their loved ones in the horrific terrorist attack.

It was an attack against free speech, the heart of our democracies, and only make us more determined to unite as nations in a force of liberty to stand against extremism and tyranny.​ For that, they have simply made us stronger.