Last week across the country we celebrated the 70th birthday of our National Health Service. As part of the festivities I went to our local hospital St Richard’s to meet with staff, and serve tea and cake to patients in the Middleton Ward and Howard Ward. During my visit I met a number of patients who remember a time before the NHS and it is incredible to think that there are people alive today who didn’t have access to treatment when they were ill and could only get healthcare if they paid.
In Chichester we are very lucky to have St Richard’s which is part of the Western Sussex Hospital Trust and is one of only six CQC rated Outstanding Trusts in England. Over the years I’ve got to know St Richards quite well, luckily not as a patient but as a Board Governor for two years and as your MP. The staff and leadership at St Richard’s are exceptional and have managed to cope well with the ever-increasing demands on their services over the years; compared to 2010 for example they now do over 60,000 more diagnostic tests and nearly 27,000 more operations. All this means a lot more work, and so it was lovely to visit again last week to meet old friends and to take time out to recognise the staff and thank them for their amazing work.
I am pleased that the Prime Minister has recently announced £20billion of additional funding for the health service by 2023/24, meaning budgets will rise by an average of 3.4% a year. There is an expectation that improvements and efficiencies will be made, partially through better integration between primary, acute and social care services.
The NHS is like a big security blanket for each of us, so we are always safe in the knowledge that during times of sickness, in our hour of need, we have access to fantastic treatment, delivered by wonderful staff who care for us and nurse us back to health. So, my message for this week is, thank you.