I firmly believe that our state funded and free at the point of use health provision is a system second to none. We must protect it at all costs. While that doesn’t mean all private provision within the NHS is inappropriate, there must be clear accountability when a decision is made to work with an alternative provider. Clear checks and balances are required to ensure that such provision is not just cost cutting but that it delivers an improved quality of service – not a cheaper service.
No decision regarding health care should ever be taken on cost grounds alone.
Along with a number of other people I have set up a 38 degrees West Dorset health campaign group. We intend to scrutinise changes to healthcare provision in this part of the county. This includes monitoring the Clinical Commissioning Group meetings, the actions of the health trusts and proposed changes including those to move the pathology lab at Dorset County Hospital. We are also concerned by the problems being faced by the South West Area Ambulance Trust.
Proposals are now being developed by local health providers and Dorset County Council’s Transformation Bid. The aim is to pool resources in order to provide a joined up service; I think this is an exciting development.
In 2011 I worked to set up the Bridport Community Health Campaign (which prevented removal of services at Bridport Community Hospital). Following the removal of services at the Hughes Unit in Bridport I have been working with mental health service users to set up a Drop in Centre and Respite House.
A number of constituents have approached me recently with concerns about having to travel long distances to appointments at the pain clinic in Bournemouth and about waiting for up to 6 months for bone density scans. We need more transparency from NHS trusts locally about where they are cutting back appointments or staff and I will be asking for evidence about how these decisions were made. Patient well-being should never be sacrificed to cost cutting and I am supporting those concerned in finding answers and looking at how these services can be re-instated.