'Planning ahead for future health challenges'

You can read my latest monthly column for the Witney Gazette here:

One of the issues that has most dominated my time serving West Oxfordshire has been our local health services.  There is nothing more important than knowing that when you or a loved one is in need of care, you are able to receive the support you need.

It must be said that many of the changes we need to see in our local health systems are not due to funding, but instead down to our changing care needs.  There are more of us living longer, with more complex health needs.  However, the main reason for change is to take the opportunity to incorporate new technology into the system.  The default does not need to be booking a GP appointment if you have a concern. You can now call 111 for advice, visit a drop-in hub where you can see doctors, nurses, physios and pharmacists who will be best placed to help you, or even in the near future have a video call with a doctor, removing the need to travel into the practice at all.

I am pleased that particularly in Witney we are leading the way with many exciting changes taking place, ensuring local healthcare system works for us. 

That being said, more funding is always welcome.  I am so pleased that the Government is recognising the excellent work of the NHS by using its 70th birthday to ensure it has the funding to continue to thrive.

Over the last 70 years, increases in health funding have often been inconsistent – creating uncertainty and preventing much needed investments in technology, buildings and workforce.

Certainty will be given by the Government’s guarantee that NHS funding will grow on average by 3.4% in real terms each year to 2023-24. This means that the NHS England budget will increase by £20.5 billion in real terms compared with today - £394 million more a week.

This funding will enable Witney and West Oxfordshire to continue to harness innovation to put the patient at the heart of healthcare.

I am also excited that this extra funding boost will enable a greater focus on prevention, not just a cure.  We are already seeing great work linking organisations such as the John Radcliffe and Age UK to ensure that patients receive support after they leave hospital, and a helping hand to prevent further issues, which takes into account their physical, mental and social care needs together.

It is undeniable that healthcare faces huge challenges in the coming decades, as we face an aging population combined with welcome but expensive treatment.  However, I am pleased that the Government is planning ahead to help our local area have the funding and security we need.  We can continue to innovate and improve, to ensure we all receive the care we need.

If you want to speak to me about this or any other issue, please email me at robert@robertcourts.co.uk.  I also send out a regular email newsletter where I keep thousands of you updated on all I have been up to in West Oxfordshire and in Parliament – I would welcome you to sign up if you are interested at www.robertcourts.co.uk.

Published on 04.07.18 in the Witney Gazette.