My column from 23 November
This week we’ve seen colder weather, with the days ever shorter. Winter, as Game of Throne fans like to say, is coming. With winter comes extra pressure on our NHS, as more of us fall ill and need to use our most highly valued public service. I fell ill on Christmas Day in 2016, receiving life-saving treatment. I know how important it is to keep it running during the busiest time of year.
Following periods of ill-health, I was determined to give something back and signed up as a volunteer Community First Responder. This has been hugely rewarding and given me a unique insight to the pressures our NHS and emergency services face every day.
I have recently done a shift Burnley General Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre, allowing me to see first-hand the vital work done by doctors, nurses and staff. It is important MPs truly understand the difficulties hospital staff face day to day. I will be doing another shift over Christmas, in a local A&E on a Friday night, where I am sure I will again be humbled by the hard work and professionalism of all those who work in our NHS.
Thankfully, we are seeing a record increase in support going towards our NHS – over £20 billion in the next five years. This is vital as we adapt to people living longer, developing more complicated health complaints that are more expensive to treat.
Preparing the NHS better for the busy winter months is critically important. This year, there’s already been extensive preparations. There’s been a £145 million upgrade in A&E and bed capacity alongside ongoing work also to speed up discharges. The Government has also announced a £240 million boost in adult social care funding.
A more effective flu vaccine has also been made available this winter for those aged 65 and over, with the potential to prevent over 700 flu-related deaths. If you are eligible for a free flu jab, I would strongly recommend visiting your local pharmacy.
I will always do what I can to help our local NHS deliver top quality services for Pendle residents, all throughout the year.