This week started with two pieces of positive news which I know will be of interest to a great many people across the South West and beyond and with which I have had some involvement as an MP.
The NHS Long Term Plan has been launched, giving a direction of travel over the next ten years. This goes alongside the massive £20.5billion funding increase over the next five years and contains lots of really much needed emphases of focus which will modernise the health service and help it to adapt to new challenges. This includes areas like IT, using new and digital technology to improve patient access, privacy and cybersecurity. Better funding for GPs and community health services will be welcome locally I know and I look forward to working with local clinicians on getting that investment where it is needed. Particular focus on cancer survival rates, cardiovascular disease and mental health services are all very welcome.
Offering funding certainty over a number of years will greatly help planning within the NHS and was something I had discussed with Jeremy Hunt when he was in charge. I’m also pleased to see a commitment to ensure that the NHS is a world class employer with comprehensive wellbeing support for staff to help their own resilience and mental health. Encouraging and funding new routes into healthcare careers is something I have been pushing for some time and will continue to do so.
Local delivery of the programme will be shaped in the coming months and of course clinicians and patients will be heavily involved. If you would like me to pass your thoughts onto the Department of Health do please get in touch.
The other piece of news is that the rollout of Universal Credit is to be slowed a little to focus on the lessons of a trial of 10,000 claimants transferred onto the system. There has been a lot of unfair reporting about UC and certainly my own discussions with the local Jobcentre team and others suggest that it has helped many people get back into work and simplify their finances. What I have found though is that it can be challenging for some vulnerable people who have perhaps got into debt in the past or struggle to manage their money on a monthly basis. I was one of the MPs who lobbied to get the waiting time reduced and will continue to report the anecdotal information I receive into the process but in the meantime there is no harm in the Government taking a little more time to make sure problems are ironed out.
The start of this week was a back-to-work day for many and I would like to wish everyone a healthy and happy 2019. The Westminster timetable is packed but I look forward to seeing many of you here in Somerset over the coming months. As always, if you would like to get in touch, if you have a problem I may be able to help with or if you would like to make an appointment at one of my advice surgeries please do call 01935314321 or email Marcus.firstname.lastname@example.org