CORNWALL’S HEALTHCARE LOOKS UP

2 February 2007

It sounds like good news.

The review into healthcare in Cornwall (and the Isles of Scilly) was published on 30 January and gives the new primary care trust, set up in October last year, the chance to improve the NHS here significantly. One can read the report here.

An important aim is to provide as much care, routine care and procedures, as is safely possible nearer to the patient’s home. That’s really good news and reflects what people have told the trust in its public consultations. The increasing centralisation of health at Treliske (and Derriford) is to cease apparently, with money redirected over time to local NHS provision and providers. Additionally, the two hospitals in west Cornwall threatened with closure, West Cornwall at Penzance and St Michaels at Hayle, will stay open and there will be a doctor-led accident and emergency facility at Penzance.

Major and highly specialist health care will sensibly continue at the district general hospitals at Treliske, Derriford, or beyond.

The trust has recognised that there are inequalities in health among the various parts of Cornwall and will tackle them, but I’m not clear what they will actually do. It is good to read of the trust’s concern but I think these health inequalities are related to economic inequalities and reducing those are beyond the trust’s powers. A comprehensive approach to inequality is needed.

The NHS in Cornwall has an accumulated deficit of around £45 million. There is to be an extra £75 million of funds which takes the spending to £720 million a year. The trust believes this extra will help erase the deficit over time without reducing patient services. This is a turnaround as on 11 December 2006 the Guardian included the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (Treliske and the hospitals in Cornwall) among the technically bankrupt NHS services.

More good news too: a new NHS dental service is opening in Penzance for 7500 people.

It looks good for the NHS in Cornwall right now. Good intentions are here already and hopefully healthcare is going to get better. Go on, smile (but keep your powder dry).

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