For as long as I can remember our NHS has been a foundation stone in my life. My Grandmother was a nursing sister at the Cumberland Royal Infirmary, my mother was also an NHS nurse in my childhood city of Carlisle for a time and I have relied upon the service for myself, my children and my husband’s good health for over half a century.
For the NHS to continue to deliver for the next 50 years we must equip it to meet the challenges of the 21st century; caring for an ageing population and harnessing ever improving medical technology. This will require significant investment and I am delighted that the Government have committed an additional £20.5 billion a year to the service, representing the biggest cash injection it has ever received.
But cash alone is not a panacea for all our future healthcare challenges. More money brings added responsibility to achieve maximum impact. The NHS 10 Year Plan, published this week, sets out to do exactly that; greater focus on prevention to relieve pressure on hospitals, improvements in cancer diagnosis to provide quicker and more effective treatment, progression into the digital age allowing patients to book appointments and view their health records online. Vitally too there is more funding for mental health services and community care.
I have contacted Miles Scott, the Chief Executive of the Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, and Ian Ayers, the MD of the West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group, to seek their views on the plan. Unsurprisingly they welcome the increased funding and the stability of a 10-year plan, but the detailed financial allocations will not be available for a week or so. Only at that time will we be able to assess the net effect upon our services here in Maidstone and the Weald and I will be scrutinising those figures, alongside our health professionals, with great care and attention.