Health and Social Care

 

Student Nurses- #FundOurFuture Campaign 

I met with the #FundOurFuture lobby in Parliament to discuss their concerns and how we can better support student nurses. I will be considering the content of their report. 

 

Tax rises to fund the NHS

I have received a number of "Tax to fund the NHS" campaign emails from constituents proposing a tax rise in the Budget to fund the NHS. As a country, we are a little behind some of our continental neighbours in terms of percentage of GDP in health spending and agree that we do need to ensure our health service is properly funded. However, I also believe we need to look at how money is already being spent, and make an assessment of where savings can be made. I submitted a list of suggestions on how to do so ahead of the budget and asked for these to be considered before we look at asking taxpayers to pay more towards these services. 

However, more money for the NHS was announced in the budget, without asking hardworking taxpayers for more. NHS funding will increase, including more spending for mental health. The government will increase its budget by £20.5 billion after inflation by 2023-24. Within this, the NHS will increase mental health spending by more than £2 billion a year by 2023-24.

 

Gloucestershire CCG breast reconstruction provision for breast cancer patients

I have received a number of emails regarding local provision of reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients following updated clinical advice included in Breast Cancer Now's report "Rebuilding My Body". I have contacted the CCG who have advised: 

"NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has received correspondence from “Breast Cancer Now” drawing our attention to this report and the recommendations contained.

The CCG are now planning to  conduct a review of our Individual Funding Request (IFR) policy on breast reconstruction post cancer treatment on the back of this letter and report. This will be jointly led by the IFR team and the Cancer Clinical Program Group (CPG)." 

Immigration Health Surcharge

I recognise the excellent contribution made by those working in our health service from abroad and the IHS allows anyone in the UK on a work, study or family visa for longer than 6 months to access NHS services in the same way as UK citizens. Short-term migrants, including those on visitor visas, are generally charged for secondary care treatment by the NHS at the point of access.

In responding to this issue, the Minister for Immigration highlighted that while we welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, the NHS is a national, not international health service and that it is right those working in the UK temporarily contribute to the NHS financially. The Minister has explained that the changes better reflect the cost to the NHS of treating those who pay the surcharge, as the Department for Health estimates that the NHS spends £470 on average per person per year on treating those required to pay the surcharge.

 

NHS Visa Cap

I have received a number of emails calling for NHS staff to be exempt from the cap on tier two visas. The Home Secretary has announced that doctors and nurses will be taken out of Tier 2 visa cap. You can read this statement in full here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/doctors-and-nurses-to-be-taken-out-o…   

 

Mental Health: Helplines

The Department for Education supports the NSPCC through an £8 million grant over four years (up to 2020), as a contribution to funding ChildLine (a phone and online advice service for children) and the NSPCC’s National Helpline (for anyone with concerns or worries about a child).

NHS England’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health sets out the current transformation programme to support children and young people’s mental health. In terms of our future plans relating to children’s mental health, the government has recently consulted on ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a Green Paper’. A response to the consultation will be published before the summer recess. 

 

Social Care 

The government will publish a social care Green Paper this summer which sets out the government's  long-term plan for social care and also presents an opportunity to take a more fundamental approach to tackling the challenges carers face. Importantly, it also provides an opportunity to ensure we have a social care system which is sustainable for the future in terms of funding. 

I have received a number of emails in relation to the Independent Age campaign. The Minister has provided the following response: 

In developing the Green Paper, it is right that we take the time needed to debate the many complex issues and listen to the perspectives of experts and care users, building consensus around reforms which can succeed. The Department has undertaken a period of engagement where the Government is working with experts, stakeholders and users to shape the long-term reforms that will be proposed in the Green Paper. As part of this engagement, officials from the Department have met with Independent Age to discuss their report.

 

Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed late as patients do not usually present to primary or secondary care until symptomatic. There is work underway on early diagnosis using biomarkers but this has not yet extended into clinical practice. Early diagnosis “decision aid tools” have also been explored for use among primary care but the predictive value of these are low so that it is not possible to practically differentiate patients with pancreatic cancer from the far larger proportion of patients without cancer but similar symptoms.

National Health Service services for pancreatic cancer have been significantly improved in recent years. This includes clearer diagnostic pathways; decision making by specialist multi-disciplinary teams; and the centralisation of pancreas surgery within specialist teams.

This now aims to further improve cancer survival by an extra 5,000 people and improve experience of care over the next two years, with a range of improvements including:

  • Patients having better access to the latest treatments, with roll-out of the largest radiotherapy upgrade programme in 15 years, with an extra £94 million to be spent on equipping hospitals with state of the art linear accelerators;
  • Patients being tested sooner with investment in greater diagnostic capacity, including 10 new Rapid Diagnostic and Assessment Centres. This will be measured through the new 28 day faster diagnosis standard which will be rolled out from April 2018; and
  • Personalised care and support being offered to patients during treatment and for those recovering from cancer, improving their quality of life and experience of care.

The Five Year Forward View ‘Next Steps’ Plan is available at: https://www.england.nhs.uk/five-year-forward-view/