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, 1 December 2016


On Friday I took part in a fascinating panel discussion on the future of the NHS at an event well organised by the University of the 3rd Age. If you are of that vintage and would like to take part in interesting discussions why not join – they have branches everywhere.

The panel comprised the chief executive of Derriford Hospital, the boss of social care throughout Devon, a GP from inner city Plymouth who is also on the Clinical Commissioning Group, plus me.

Three of the conclusions from two hours of earnest debate are worth reporting.

We all agreed that having a national health service free at the point of use was an amazing feat that we should not lightly throw overboard. Because many of us are living so much longer, with all of the health needs that accompany old age, the pressures on the NHS are record breaking, despite more money being pumped in every year. Accordingly, it is wise to consider whether our current model has run its course.  Other countries have other systems which involve insurance in small or large measure. But our NHS is much cherished by our nation and part of our identity. We should defend it and overcome current challenges.

Secondly, the panel agreed that we all have to take much more responsibility for our own health and bodies. The GP, perhaps reflecting his career as an inner city doctor was particularly hot on this, giving illustrations of how many of his patients depend entirely on him rather than taking the most simple of measures themselves. Although this attitude might be partly a consequence of deprivation, and therefore hard to correct, we need to educate our society to do a better job in taking personal responsibility for how we live. Apparently the 4 key lifestyle issues: eating, drinking, smoking and exercise account for 54% of the draw upon the NHS. In other words, if people ate and drank more sensibly, took more exercise and did not smoke, we would not need half of our NHS!

Finally, we all agreed on the need for much better use of technology, not least in enabling us to access and carry around with us our own medical records which could then be shared with medical professionals when encountering the system.

So keep the current model, hammer home personal responsibility and dramatically improve technology.  I return to Westminster to share these conclusions with the Health Secretary. 

posted by Gary @ 13:15