The Leader Times Series March 6th 2020

Sadly, it seems the UK continues to be affected by coronavirus, as the number of confirmed cases grows and other countries across the world deal with outbreaks.

There’s a lot we can do as individuals to protect ourselves and others. This includes regularly washing hands and following the catch it, bin it, kill it advice on coughing into a tissue.

However, a key part of responding to an outbreak like this will always be the quality of our health service and in the UK, we can be hugely grateful that we have the NHS.

As our population grows and lives longer, pressure on the NHS is increasing. Winter is always a tough time when demand on the system is at its highest but with coronavirus, it may well prove a difficult summer too for the incredibly hard-working and dedicated staff working in hospitals, health centres and GP services. They will be on the front line of responding to the outbreak.

The good news is that we are seeing an increase in the NHS resources we have available, locally and nationally. Recent statistics showed that over the past year the NHS recruited an extra 8,570 nurses – good progress towards the goal of 50,000 more nurses I was elected on a pledge to deliver.

Locally, East Lancashire’s hospitals recruited an extra 96 nurses and 55 doctors over the last year. These extra health professionals will help meet the demand of patients from Pendle and help manage the pressures on everyone working in the NHS.

One project I have been really interested in and supportive of is the expansion of UCLAN’s School of Medicine to offer more training places for local students to train to medical professionals. I want more people from Pendle to be able to pursue a career in medicine – a highly rewarding and respected choice of career.

All these new hires are only possible because our economy has been well-managed and growing in recent years. Parliament has just approved a law that will ensure the NHS is given an extra £33.9 billion every year by 2024.

However, nothing comes for free and ultimately, the money for our NHS comes from hard-working taxpayers. It is vitally important we keep our economy strong as we respond to coronavirus, and the many other challenges we all face.