The growing pressure on hospitals across the country during the busy winter period has made the headlines a lot recently and here in Swindon, it has been no exception, with Great Western Hospital facing an unprecedented demand for services.
Swindon is a town which continues to grow and as a user with my family of local health services, I am also fully aware of the demands being placed on our local GP practices, which have further added to the pressures. I continue to be in regular contact with GP surgeries and patients, have met NHS England and Swindon CCG to discuss this issue and have supported moves to help local surgeries work together. Back in August, I worked with North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson to help to secure funding for a promotional campaign aimed to attract more GPs to the town.
Despite tight public finances, the Government has actively supported the NHS’ own plan for the future. That is why it is providing additional billions of investment each year after having agreed to do this for our NHS. The Government has also introduced tough new financial controls to cut down on waste in the NHS, which includes introducing caps for agency staff and management consultants.
The dedication and sheer hard work of our NHS staff is absolutely crucial to delivering world-class care for patients and the standard of care provided by doctors working in the UK remains among the best in the world. I want to pay my own tribute to the wonderful work done by our GPs.
In a very interesting article in last week’s Adver, Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said that only 33% of more than 5,000 people who have visited Great Western Hospital, Salisbury District Hospital or Bath Royal United Hospital between December 31 and January 8th actually required emergency treatment. It is important that all of us make the right choices when it comes to the type of treatment we need. The advice that we are given is to attend A&E if we are seriously unwell or seriously injured, and to use other services such as the Carfax NHS medical centre, or a pharmacy for less serious problems.
If you need advice, or you are not sure which service to use, you can call the NHS 111 Freephone service. This service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and offers patients with urgent, but not life-threatening symptoms a fast way to get help when they need it.
I am in close contact with Nerissa Vaughan, Chief Executive of GWH regarding the current high demand for services. As already mentioned in my previous column, I met her a few weeks ago to discuss the new arrangements for discharge assessment which I hope will improve the speed by which patients, particularly elderly people, are discharged from hospital beds.
As someone who regularly visits Great Western Hospital, I see at first hand the hard work and dedication of staff who work hard to provide safe and high-quality care to patients at very busy times; we owe them our thanks and praise.
Finally, I am pleased that Swindon has been awarded almost £200,000 from the Government to help to tackle potholes on local roads. This funding builds on the £163,000 we got last year and will lead to road improvements, a reduction in congestion and a decrease in journey times.