MP joins Newquay Hospital battle
MP Steve Double has called for Newquay Hospital to be safeguarded ahead of plans to close facilities around the region to cut costs.
The Conservative MP believes the hospital plays a crucial role in providing health care in the town and that closing the facility would add untold pressure to the ‘already creaking’ Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.
Mr Double has made the case for Newquay Hospital as part of his feedback on consultation for the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), which aims to improve services and cut costs, as there will be a £264 million deficit if health services carry on as they are over the next five years. The strategy being proposed includes spending more on prevention and improving health, transforming urgent and emergency care and providing more care in the community.
The plan involves closing a number of community hospitals as more care would be provided in patients’ homes and replacing Minor Injuries Units with Urgent Care Centres that would offer a greater range of services “but on fewer sites”.
Mr Double does not believe the shortfall the NHS in Cornwall is facing is simply down to lack of Government funding, as he says it has “steadily” increased in recent years. He states the current situation is a result of “inconsistent leadership” within the NHS and failure to adequately plan for the future.
In his letter to the NHS, Mr Double wrote: “Whilst I appreciate that everything needs to be under scrutiny with regards to NHS services in order to ensure the best use of resources, I do believe that the continued provision for community hospitals needs to be seriously considered.
“It is surely important that we look at the whole range of NHS provision in Cornwall and ensure that they all work together to ensure the most efficient delivery across Cornwall. There is little point in making changes or cutting services to save money in one area if the outcome is simply adding more pressure and costs on another.
“Concerns have been expressed about the future of Newquay Hospital. Although I have been led to believe that there is no real imminent threat to the hospital, I want to place on record that I believe this service is absolutely vital and should be maintained. Not only does the hospital provide a vital local service for local residents, but the Minor Injuries Unit is vital in treating the hundreds of thousands of tourists that come to the area every year. If this facility were to be closed it would add untold pressure to the already creaking RCHT.
“Thought needs to be given to relieving pressure off the one major hospital in Cornwall. I believe it is time for a radical rethink of the centralised approach to health care. I am of the view that community hospitals have a key part to play, particularly in light of the geography of Cornwall, and their role should be enhanced rather than being under threat of closure.”
Mr Double says he will continue to press for more funding for the NHS in Cornwall, but is conscious more savings need to be made.
He added: “In all things I believe it is important to plan for the future. I am aware of challenges and pressures that face our NHS. It is right that all NHS services across Cornwall are in scope to be part of the full review process as part of the consultation for the STP, so we can ensure we get best value for money from them and they operate to the best of their abilities.
“I am pleased that this Government has increased funding for the NHS in real terms and is set to continue to increase the funding going forward. However, the funding needs to be spent well and the service fits to meet the demands our population place on it. Just throwing money at a problem won’t necessarily make it go away.
“I believe community hospitals play a crucial role in providing health care that is accessible for all.”