One of my top priorities in Maidstone and The Weald, ever since the MASH campaigns started back in 2008, has been to protect and help improve our NHS services for local people.
Earlier this year I wrote in these pages of my concern that Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MATW) NHS Trust found themselves amongst the lowest performing in the country for cancer treatment waiting times.
I spoke with the Trust’s Chief Executive, Miles Scott, who explained the pressures of increased demand for these services and assured me that substantial improvements would be made by the end of the summer. This week I was delighted with the news that the Trust are back on track with MATW now in the top 30% of Trusts in the country.
The turnaround follows a targeted programme of investment in equipment and facilities combined with a dogged determination from the team at the Trust. I remain on hand to help tackle future challenges in any way I can.
I must declare a vested interest; my husband, brother, uncle, father in law and two close friends have all been affected by prostate cancer in recent years. The mantra repeated to me by health professionals throughout has been that early diagnosis is essential for effective treatment. I was therefore very concerned to hear from a constituent that his once routine annual PSA blood test is now only available after consultation with a G.P. This test, whilst not conclusive, is an important non-invasive diagnostic tool in prostate cancer detection. With the demands already placed upon our GPs, I question whether such a consultation is a good use of their time. It also creates further delay and, critically, could deter some patients from seeking diagnosis at all.
I will be meeting Dr Bob Bowes, Chair of West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (who decide how NHS resources are spent locally) to fathom this issue and I will keep you posted.