At a meeting at the weekend, local health chiefs and West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, vowed to work together to put right the serious underfunding that Cornwall’s health service has experienced in recent years.
The meeting, which took place on Friday evening was arranged and hosted by Mr George who was joined by the Chief Executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals’ Trust, Lezli Boswell, Dr Neil Walden, the new locality lead for Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group (the body which, from April next year, will take over the running of the NHS in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly from the Primary Care Trust) and Kevin Baber, the Chief Executive of Peninsula Community Health.
Mr George highlighted the successful campaign which MPs had led in the previous parliament which secured a more acceptable funding formula but which highlighted that Cornwall was being underfunded by £tens of millions a year (e.g. £56 million below its target fund in 2010/11).
With increasing financial pressures on the local NHS to find 4% savings in the next year and with RCHT still carrying a £23 million legacy debt, the three health chiefs/MP agreed to work together to make a strong case to Government for fair funding.
Mr George said, “Cuts in health funding happen with lightening speed whereas correcting historic underfunding move at glacial pace. This is leaving Cornwall with greater financial pressures than many other parts of the country. It is crucial that we get on top of this, but Health Ministers need to listen and treat Cornwall fairly.
“Successive governments have over the last couple of decades created unfair formulae and failed to correct for the shortfall between what they say we should have and what we actually get. The least they could do now is to write off historic debt and allow us to start with a clean sheet next year.”
The meeting was attended by over 110 local people and received presentations from each of the panellists on the challenges which the local NHS faces during the biggest upheaval in the 62 years of the NHS.
Many questions were asked which set the agenda for future discussion about the health changes.
Mr George made clear why he opposed his own Government in arguing and voting against the new Health and Social Care Act which is bringing in so many of the changes which are affecting the local area. Nevertheless, he said that he wanted the reforms to work and would be working with local Trusts and the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group to protect patient interests and the local NHS.
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