Healthcare and access to medical provision when we need it, is vital to so many people in our region. Our NHS and the services it provides will be relied on by virtually all of us at some stage in our lives. Considering we live in an area where a quarter of our population is over 70 years old, the standard of our hospitals and healthcare is incredibly important to so many of us throughout North Norfolk.
With our expanding and ageing population our community needs enough capacity in our medical facilities for the future. For example, we must have adequate access to GP surgeries and cut the waiting times down to seeing a local doctor. We also need quality care and nursing facilities as a priority to cater for our older generations and continue to give them the independence they need in their older years.
It concerns me that the number of patients waiting more than four hours to be seen at Norfolk’s A&E departments has hit the highest levels since 2014. I have witnessed similarly on many occasions this problem first hand through being a first aider in my business where I worked prior to becoming an MP. People falling over or hurting themselves often wait hours for a paramedic to turn up. We need to cut ambulance response times by putting more resource into the service and recognise the issues that happen in North Norfolk.
Of course, healthcare, the relationships in this sector and the challenges to deal with an ever-ageing nation, with changing medical needs are extremely complex. There is no easy answer. But I welcome the Government’s recent £20.5bn long term plan for the NHS. No Government has ever pledged such resources for the NHS, nor would I trust any other party to be able to deal with the issues. This money will be spent on the NHS over the next 5 years and one of the key pledges is to recognise on parity, physical health and mental health issues with equal status.
This was one of the key headlines for me that stood out. North Norfolk has not had the support it should for mental health services. It is simply not good enough that young people’s suicide rates are above national averages and the services must be improved. So many of us have been touched by mental health issues in our families and friends, so the announcement by the Government for "better access to mental health services, to help achieve the Government’s commitment to parity of esteem between mental and physical health" is in my eyes a significant step in the right direction.
I am proud of our NHS and the incredible work it does. It is the best healthcare system in the world. I will fight for its services reaching our rural community. Relationship building is key and I want to ensure we improve across a range of areas including mental health provision and adult social care.