Our National Health Service, and its staff, are at the forefront of incredible change and scientific developments.
These enormous strides will improve wellbeing and prolong patients’ lives.
They also create an enormous amount of pressure and demand on our local healthcare clinicians and support staff. It is to these local staff who I am keen to offer my wholehearted support in these challenging times. With our local healthcare trust being put in special measures and our junior doctors facing uncertainty with changes to their terms and conditions, it is vital that we provide a wall of support locally.
Firstly, the positive news. I visited Bexhill Hospital this week and met the dedicated team who, last year, opened the new Jethro Arscott Unit to treat eye conditions. Under unit Matron Lesley Carter, this team treat scores of patients with care and devotion. Meeting the patients, I was struck by how proud they were of their local service. The next day, incredible news came out that surgeons in London may have found a cure for the most common form of blindness. A simple procedure could cure 600,000 patients in the UK.
These developments are a cause for celebration but lead to a huge challenge because our NHS staff will have to find the resources to deliver these new procedures and operations. Our junior doctors work incredibly hard and will be the future of these changes but are currently in the midst of confusion over changes to their contracts. I met a group of our junior doctors this week and it is clear they are genuinely concerned for their futures. It is vital that any changes support junior doctors and make their career more rewarding as a whole. In our doctors’ surgeries, there is a struggle to recruit more GPs and entice them from hospital practice. We need to encourage surgeries to merge into larger practices or specialise in treatment areas to allow GPs to develop their careers.
As for East Sussex Healthcare Trust, sadly in special measures, we need to all pull together as a community and support the Trust as it seeks to recruit a new Chairman and Chief Executive. I am visiting the Conquest next week to show my support to staff and patients. We can all play our part by showing how proud and supportive we are of our magnificent hospitals, surgeries and staff. Let’s not open old battles about Eastbourne versus Hastings provision. Let’s highlight the positives in our own personal experience using the NHS and not always dwell on any negatives. Let’s put all our energies into helping the Trust attract a new management team to lead and develop staff and equip them to deliver these extraordinary new developments in our healthcare.