Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 5 March 2015


The landscape for the NHS – which has grown like topsy over the past fifteen years – could easily be described as fragmented.

Most of its principles are sound: specialist trusts run the hospitals GPs run their own surgeries and new commissioning groups, with doctors at their heart, buy in the health services that fit the needs of their patients.
In our area Derriford Acute Hospitals Trust runs our massive hospital and Plymouth Community healthcare looks after domestic care and mental health services. Plymouth City Council is responsible for public health and other aspects of social care, including looking after people in their own homes. GPs are all self-employed as ever.

Despite the fact that more money has been put into the health service for every one of the past 5 years – an increase over and above inflation each year – it is obvious that the NHS is under pressure. There are fewer administrators and thousands more nurses and doctors. But it does not feel like that. Derriford has always been under pressure for every year I have been an MP, but my recent briefing up there suggests the problems are more intense than ever. Why is this if we are increasing the budget?

Obviously, us all living longer is a large part of it and people in their 80's and 90's having complex medical procedures is not something that ever used to happen.

But the dis-connection between acute services and support for people to return to their own homes – or nursing or residential care if appropriate – has always been a weak link. This has led to much bed-blocking with people having their operations cancelled through lack of beds because somebody who no longer needs that bed has not been found a place outside hospital or has insufficient support to go home.

In our area, that might be about to change, thanks to some ground-breaking work pioneered by the city council and their local health partners. From 1st April 2015 health and social care in Plymouth is going to be properly integrated with all of the various players coming together to commission services and join up the dots. This should soon show a vast improvement in people being released from hospital and cared for in a more appropriate way.

If this works as we all hope it does, bed blocking could become a thing of the past and Plymouth could have blazed a trail that others will follow.

posted by Gary @ 08:44