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.


Monday, 21 March 2016


I had a long meeting with the excellent CEO of Derriford Hospital on Friday to talk through some of our local health challenges.

In truth the whole system is under pressure. It always has been ever since I started meeting the then CEO of Derriford in 1992, but it is worse than ever. Despite pumping more money into the NHS than ever in our history, despite having recruited more doctors and nurses than ever before, the system is creaking at the seams.

As you may recall, the government has chosen 3 areas of the country to launch an intervention (wrongly) named the success regime. We are one of them. A smart team of people have been analysing how our local health economy works and a report on initial findings is due shortly. As a result we might be able to put in place a robust plan to improve healthcare locally.

The primary reason for this unprecedented pressure appears to be the great age that many of us are now achieving, with, understandably, regular health needs as part of that journey. You do not need to sit in the foyer at Derriford for very long to observe that the vast majority of patients are or retirement age and above. GPs surgeries are under enormous pressure as patients know from trying to get an appointment when ill.

Perhaps too many patients are being needlessly referred to the acute hospital, but in this age of litigious patients can we really blame GPs for that? Too many people are attending the Emergency Department at Derriford when they might not need to do so. But who wants to be the one who discourages the well-hidden child meningitis case? Too many patients are staying in acute hospital beds when they could be convalescing in less intensive or expensive units, and the recent local integration of health and social care is taking a long time to produce discernible improvements.

Let us hope that the fruits of the success regime produce a better system for us locally.  I will be supporting its findings strongly, even if there are tough decisions to be made – because we cannot go on as we are. The government is rightly committed to the NHS Five Year
Plan and are funding it in full, but if in 5 years' time our system is still under so much pressure, the clamour for a fresh look at the NHS model will be inescapable. 

posted by Gary @ 10:19