July 2016 Cornishman article
July West Cornwall Health Watch Column for Cornishman
Mid-Summer Eve, Mazey Day and the EU Referendum have all come and gone. Meanwhile, approximately half of the population of Penwith believe that our NHS will soon be in receipt of £350 million per week, while the other half are more likely to believe in the ‘tooth fairy’ than that promise being fulfilled.
In last month’s column, we discussed ‘local decision making’ and posed the question ‘rhetoric or reality’. We make no apologies for continuing with that theme this month.
During February and March, Cornwall Council and NHS Kernow, carried out an engagement exercise, including a survey and public events that took place throughout Cornwall. Some Cornishman readers will have attended the very first public event at St John’s Hall on March 8th and many more will have filled in the questionnaires that were being circulated around Penwith.
The survey asked people about their priorities for health and social care and more tellingly, how our overall health and wellbeing needs could be improved at less cost.
The collated feedback, includes things like ‘services to be provided locally rather than centralised in Truro and concern over continuing closures of local community beds’ and will, we are told, ‘inform’ the development of Cornwall’s’ 5 year Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), a catchy title if ever we heard one.
The STP, Integration of Health and Social Care and longer term Cornwall Devolution Deal are all upper most in the minds of those we do actually make the decisions about our health and social care. The vital question for us of course is how much weight will be given to our views and our feedback. Sadly, the’ Poltair experience’ has left us somewhat cynical and we feel sure that the key driver in all of this is ‘cost’ and the need to make savings.
So as our Cornwall councillors and GP commissioners (KCCG) step up the rhetoric around the Cornwall Devolution Deal, with such gems as “a significant milestone has been reached as we work towards our shared ambition of integrating health and social care, empowering local communities to have greater ownership of decisions and resources, tailored to local needs”, we look at the reality.
KCCG is carrying a potential debt of £62.5 million and Cornwall Council has to cut £200 million from its budget over the next 4 years.
Cornwall is indeed going to need some of the £350 million that the Brexit campaigners were promising us, so it is incumbent on our West Cornwall MPs, Derek Thomas and George Eustice to immediately step up to the plate and ensure Cornwall gets its ‘fair share’ of the promised NHS money or explain to their electorates, why that promise will never become a reality.