Cornishman Article June 2017

June already!  Another election – this time to elect a government for five years. We have asked the prospective parliamentary candidates for St Ives and Hayle/Camborne to commit to the following:

1.       Put Cornwall first ahead of party to ensure that there is sufficient funding to deliver NHS and Social Care that is consistently dependable and of good quality, and maintain the essential care provided to the residents of West Cornwall by West Cornwall, St Michaels, Helston and Edward Hain hospitals.

2.       Challenge any changes to health service delivery unless they are based on clear evidence and patient experience.

3.       Oppose any reduction in NHS community services including community hospitals and beds, and support provision of a 24 hour District Nursing Service.

4.       Campaign with others to put pressure on Cornwall Council to ensure workers who provide home care have the same terms and conditions as NHS staff.

5.       Oppose any further fragmentation of NHS/social care through privatisation and support bringing services back to the public sector.

In the run up to the election funding for social care has hit the headlines, and whether it is paid for by the individual or by the country as a whole, one important consideration is missing. Where are the staff to provide this care? On latest figures nationally 84,000 social care jobs were vacant, and the turnover of care staff is alarmingly high, with 48% leaving within a year of starting and up to half of the care workforce on zero hour contracts, with pay levels averaging close to the minimum wage.  Until this workforce is valued properly for the vital, challenging and skilful work they do, difficulties in recruitment and capacity will stay. Hence our fourth commitment above.


Recently we have heard some harrowing stories about  difficulties with the mental health service in Cornwall – time limited telephone discussions, offering assessment but no treatment,  patients strung along for over a year. We will be taking this up with NHS Kernow who commission the service and Cornwall Foundation Trust who provide it.


Other news - the Transformation Board who are overseeing Cornwall’s STP, now called Shaping Our Future, is that publication of the Final Business Case is not expected until the end of the year, rather than late summer. Following on from the engagement carried out earlier this year, and the criticism of the Outline Business Case by Cornwall Council’s Scrutiny Committee, it has been realised that a lot more work and engagement is needed. With a possible change of direction after the election, whoever gets into Government, one wonders if STPs will now be kicked into the long grass!

West Cornwall HealthWatch will be in Causewayhead on Saturday, please stop and talk to us.

Copyright. Jane Varker and Graham Webster