Robert's Weekly Column - 9th January 2019

There was great news to begin the week, as it was announced that the Health Secretary has approved a multi-million-pound loan for a Radiotherapy Unit at Great Western Hospital. I have been campaigning hard along with North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson since the launch of the Brighter Futures Fundraising Campaign back in May 2015, and I am delighted that following regular contact with the Health Secretary and Government finance ministers, the loan has now been given the green light.

The new radiotherapy unit will save around 700 Swindon patients a year from a gruelling 70-mile round trip for treatment at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital. 

Like many people in our town, I have been involved in fundraising events for the appeal, such as the Gingerbread Fun Run and a Music Marathon at Immanuel Church in Old Walcot.  The support that this campaign has received from thousands of fundraisers is a reflection of the strong sense of community spirit that exists here in Swindon and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved.

The Conservative Government has launched a detailed NHS Long Term Plan this week, announcing an investment of £20.5 billion into our most precious public service, which will strengthen and protect the NHS now and for generations to come.

The plan will help to transform patient care and make sure that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. There will be a new focus on prevention with £4.5 billion being invested in primary and community care, personal responsibility and promoting good health, and more rapid diagnostics and new treatments that will improve the care that patients receive.

The plan will help to ensure that every baby gets the best possible start in life with maternity safety continuing to improve and greater mental health support being provided to parents. Different health care teams will be brought together to make sure older people are getting the support they need to remain independent and avoid hospital admissions.

Improving outcomes for all major conditions, through better prevention, detection, treatment and recovery from serious diseases is at the heart of the strategy, meaning that people will live longer and healthier lives.

The NHS workforce will be expanded, providing patients with improved access to mental health, primary care and community services, with tens of thousands more doctors, nurses and other health professionals across the country, including here in Swindon. 

New digital technology will provide improved access to all NHS services for patients and waste will be cut right the way across the NHS so that taxpayers’ money will be used more efficiently, making estimated back office savings of around £700 million.

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, I welcome the news that Swindon has been announced as one of 25 trailblazer areas, for mental health support in schools and colleges. This will see a new workforce of Education Mental Health Practitioners in all schools and colleges in our town, supervised by experienced NHS staff from the children’s mental health workforce and funded as part of the £20.5bn extra funding being put into the NHS.

I will continue to work closely with the Great Western Hospital and Swindon CCG to ensure that our town remains in the spotlight when it comes to securing funding for improvements, such as the £29.573 million Government funding for an Integrated Front Door and Transitional Care Facility at GWH and the new Radiotherapy Unit.