Andrew George MP: Hospitals in ‘Vice’
The Government could do more to help Cornwall’s hospitals climb out of the doldrums they have been in for some time, says Andrew George, MP for the West Cornwall and Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives.
Commenting on news that Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (which has its Board Meeting today) is again “facing a £2 million income gap in a crucial financial year” Mr George, who is a member of the Commons Health Select Committee said that Cornwall’s Hospitals had been placed in an almost impossible position and that the Government could do more to help.
He pointed to the more than decade of under-funding; of what he described as the “kick a man whilst he is down” regime of fines adopted by the Government; and the avoidable costs incurred by the Hospitals Trust following the sacking of its former Chief Executive, John Watkinson.
Mr George said, “The previous Government eventually acknowledged that Cornwall was getting £56 million per annum less than it should have been receiving. However the present Government has successfully massaged the records to make that under-funding appear less. Cornwall’s Hospitals have been caught in a vice by the Government. It has been told that it must repay a debt which is a fraction of its years of under-funding. This has resulted in high pressure being placed on its wards and staffing. As wards have closed bed occupancy levels have soared, whilst pressure for early discharge is ever present.
“It is no wonder that the Trust has ended up being fined nearly £2 million for patient re-admissions. Cornwall’s hospitals are caught in a vice.
“Having to endure further costs as a result of the inappropriate sacking of its previous Chief Executive, through the meddling of Senior Execs in the NHS, this has merely added to the Trust’s woes.
“Of course, every publicly funded service, including Hospitals, should always be looking at ways of modernising and improving their efficiency and cost-effectiveness. However, Cornwall’s hospitals deserve to be helped by the Government, not placed in a vice which makes it almost impossible for them to escape from the difficult position they are in.”
Mr George is investigating the Government’s funding allocation formula and will be taking up issues with Government Ministers.
Some of these issues may arise at the Public Meeting which Mr George has called to take place in Penzance next Wednesday evening on Government policy and the Health and Social Care Bill. The meeting takes place in St John’s Hall, Penzance and commences at 7.30pm.