Improving local healthcare
Weston’s hospital and local GPs have been underfunded for years. Ever since the days of Avon, we’ve had less funding than the Government’s own figures said we need, and both NHS North Somerset (which funds our local GP surgeries) and Weston Hospital have built up multi-million pound debts. That’s not fair on hard-working doctors, nurses and staff, or on local patients and their families either.
Before John was even elected as Weston’s MP, he started campaigning to put things right. And over time, with plenty of support from local healthcare managers and professionals, things began to change.
Firstly the Labour Government of the day agreed to abandon plans to merge North Somerset healthcare back into Avon, after John mobilised all the local MPs from every party to oppose it. That meant Weston wouldn’t go back to being overshadowed by Bristol, as had always happened in the past.
Then, after John raised the issue with Tony Blair at Prime Ministers’ Questions, the Government produced three years of above-average funding increases which reduced the shortfall substantially. And John made sure the new coalition Government carried on the process; in 2011 we got the biggest percentage funding increase in the entire country, and we’ve also won cash to set up two new GP practices, which were long overdue to cope with Weston’s enormous growth over the last 30 years.
So we’ve made huge progress, but we're not out of the woods yet. Under the new NHS system our local healthcare is – rightly – mainly run by North Somerset’s GPs, who call most of the shots on how the money is spent and what treatment is available where. That’s a big step forward compared to the old days, when those decisions were often taken by bureaucrats in Whitehall or Bristol. Our GPs are best placed to understand Weston’s health priorities, and to fight the area’s corner without being pushed around.
But they’ve still got to deal with the funding gap, which hasn’t gone away. Our GPs are in the middle of working out how to cut our cloth to fit, so we get the best healthcare for whatever money is available. John is pledged to carry on working closely with them, as he’s done consistently in the past, to get the best health deal for local people.