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MP Responds to Minister’s visit to Southmead

Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West shared his thoughts following a visit by Jeremy Hunt to his constituency:

“I welcome yesterday’s (23rd November) visit by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. I hope his visit has given him a true picture of the critical issues facing the NHS – we were promised £350m a week for the NHS if we voted for Brexit. Instead we get £350m for the whole of winter whilst the cost of Brexit spirals by another £3bn. Jeremy Hunt and this Conservative government need to start putting patients before Brexit party politics.

The staff at Southmead Hospital, and across the NHS, are working in increasingly difficult conditions – facing rising demand, complex medical needs alongside reducing real terms funding and resources. This is of course, in addition, to a pay cap that is undermining the value we place in these staff, an under-funded mental health system and social care services in crisis. Yesterday’s budget announced a £2.8 billion injection into the NHS over the next 2.5 years, this falls far short of the Chief Executive’s view that £4 billion was needed to stop rising wait lists and significant impact on patients. Of this funding, only £350 million will be available to help hospitals cope with the inevitable pressures over winter, a situation that last year was deemed a humanitarian crisis by the British Red Cross.

There is also the uncertainty of Brexit and its impact on the sense of job security that the NHS’ EU staff have. At least 615 of Southmead’s staff are from the EU, with 40% of these working as nurses. Evidence shows many EU nursing staff are weighing up their employment options and the number of EU nationals seeking nursing bursaries has plummeted by 2700 since last year. It is also only days since the BMA reported that one in 5 EU doctors have solid plans to leave the NHS. This situation is ludicrous and the Government can’t idly sit back waiting for the fall-out – the NHS needs strong management from Government and a funding package that matches the demand and real terms costs – if there is money for Brexit there must be money for our most treasured public service.

Each winter demand at A and E’s across the country rises and Southmead will be no different, given the minimal funding boost awarded yesterday by Government, I am very concerned we will once again see some of the most vulnerable in society waiting for hours and/or laid out on beds in corridors. This is of real concern to my constituency as the closest alternative hospital’s A and E department (in Weston-Super- Mare) is still closed due to unsafe staffing levels and will undoubtedly have some impact on Southmead.

I would also urge Mr Hunt to consider whether some of our most dedicated and hardworking public servants are being paid adequately for their work and if the 1% public sector pay cap can be morally justified any longer – I am quite clear it cannot be and government should not be waiting for an independent pay body to have to tell it so”.

 

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