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Andrew Jones Member of Parliament for Harrogate & Knaresborough

Andrew Jones MP

Member of Parliament for Harrogate & Knaresborough

View from Westminster

The political world is a noisy one at present.  And when politics is noisy it is easy to think division and argument is all that is happening.  In politics there is actually much more agreement than disagreement; much more positive than negative.

Nowhere is this truer than in our National Health Service.

The national statistics are impressive: over the last six years there were 2.4 million more A&E attendances, 5.9 million more diagnostic tests, 822,000 more patients referred to a specialist for suspected cancer, 49,000 more patients treated for cancer, 9.6 million more outpatient appointments and 1.9 million more operations. These huge numbers are just the growth, not the total, so the overall picture the NHS has delivered is astonishing. Full credit must go to the teams that have made it happen.

Funding is going to increase by at least £8bn over the next five years.

But what matters to people is what is happening locally.  And therein lies a strange paradox.  Nationally we constantly hear about the problems the NHS has.  But speak to people locally and more than nine out of 10 will tell of the excellent care they receive.

This is not to say there aren’t challenges now and ahead. The lack of NHS dentistry is a good example and I am lobbying NHS England for new provision locally.

But overwhelmingly we see positive news and, amid all the noise of our politics, it is right to highlight this.

Patients have voted Harrogate Hospital as giving the best emergency care in the country in a survey carried out by the independent Care Quality Commission (CQC).  The service looks set to improve further following a Government grant of £340,000.  The grant will ensure that people attending A&E are directed to GPs where appropriate and that an out-of-hours GP service is available too.

There is good news for diabetes care.  Our Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is increasing the number of places on free education courses using £50,000 earmarked for the scheme.

The aim is that by 2022, over half of people with diabetes will attend a structured education course within one year of diagnosis. The courses enable people with diabetes to take greater control of their condition; we should also note that many people have undiagnosed diabetes.

Our local hospital has already won plaudits for cancer treatment outcomes.  Now, there is more investment locally.  The West Yorkshire and Harrogate’s Cancer Alliance has allocated £495,900 over the next 18 months.  This extra money will be used to ensure earlier cancer diagnosis and is particularly important as early diagnosis improves the chances of a positive outcome significantly.

Work to build a new £7 million Endoscopy Suite at Harrogate Hospital has started.  The new suite will provide better facilities for staff and patients and also provide capacity to accommodate the expected increase is use in coming years.

These achievements happen because our healthcare providers talk to the local community and work with the community to develop better healthcare.  It is a partnership.

Currently, the future of our mental health services are being consulted upon and there is much noise surrounding this not all of which is entirely accurate.  The mental health trust has felt compelled to release a statement saying just that.

But I know this ‘political noise’ worries patients and their families.  So my advice to them is to get involved – to be part of that partnership which has seen such improvements to our local healthcare.  The consultation is open for public comment at www.tewv.nhs.uk.

I am optimistic about local healthcare, as I have always been.  It is appreciated by local people, we have dedicated caring professional staff, our local NHS providers listen to us, more funding is coming in to local services.  Yes, there are challenges but we should be part of shaping the future which is what I am determined to do and what I encourage others to do too.

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