A healthy body and a healthy mind are basic requisites of a happy life well lived. But it’s a partnership between the individual and the state. Each of us need to do our bit to keep fit and healthy but government needs to be there to help those that need it. We all need to save for our old age – the savings should be tax free if used for fitness or health related care. Any future tax to pay for our national health care system should be similarly discounted.
Staying healthy includes good teeth and gums. Too many of us don’t regularly visit the dentist for a check-up. These are not free – I believe they should be. Let’s put our mouths back into our body where check-ups are free! Fillings should also be free. They prevent future infection. Staying healthy also means taking medication prescribed. Prescriptions should be free but not for over the counter medicines like aspirin. Almost 90% of prescriptions already are free. But with this needs to go a responsibility not to stockpile medicines and to return any unused. These and returned crutches and other supports need to be responsibly recycled and reused.
Mental health must be treated as equally important and urgent as physical care. The NHS 10 year plan begins to give this some support but doesn’t go far enough or fast enough. Prevention is better than cure and more funding needs to be available for children’s mental health. Waiting lists for CAMS are too long and crisis support is not there. I have been working long and hard with Devon County Council, Devon Partnership Trust and the government to make this a reality locally. Waiting times are coming down but I will be monitoring this closely.
More money is spent on social care for those of working age than those retired. One of the biggest barriers to getting older people out of hospital and home is agreeing the health and care package and who will pay for it. Let’s make all of it free in retirement freeing up hospital beds and getting people home. Making domiciliary care free at the point of use will drive real integration of health and care and should include the loan of medical devices such as walking frames.
Over my nine years I have fought for better healthcare across Devon. As a result we now have more services in Newton Abbot hospital which was underused, more investment promised in Dawlish hospital and a nationally recognised primary care network integrating health and care across Dawlish and Teignmouth including the proposed development of a new health hub in Teignmouth.
However the services currently provided at Teignmouth Hospital are at risk and I will not accept losing those services or losing Teigmouth from our health and care network. Torbay Hospital currently depends on Teignmouth Hospital to meet its operating theatre shortfall. I will continue to lobby government and others for the funding needed to keep and enhance these services in Teignmouth working with all local parties and the NHS.
What I Have Delivered So Far:
- Set up an All Party Parliamentary Group on Rural Health and Social Care to look at key policy issues for rural areas such as ours
- Lobbied Government for further social care funding, with Devon receiving an extra £30 million after the March 2017 Budget.
- Led on inquiries into taxpayers value for money as a member of the Public Accounts Committee which I was elected to in December 2016.
- Member of the Health & Social Care Select Committee.
- Met with key stakeholders such as NHS England, our local Clinical Commissioning Groups and healthcare professionals to deliver an effective rural healthcare system.
- Lobbied ministers to review the funding formula to properly support our rural area and disproportionately large number of over 85 year olds
- Held regular meetings with care home providers to discuss the best way to enable them to provide quality care
- A new social care precept has now been introduced which will allow local councils to drive forward ambitious plans to integrate health and social care services.
- Held stakeholders meetings to discuss the need for further GP and other primary care provision in Kingsteignton.
- Lobbied ministers for more investment in community transport services to support local charities
- Supported local dementia friendly initiatives in Teignmouth and Newton Abbot
- Lobbied successfully to relocate the Bishopsteignton surgery in order to keep it open
- Put forward a Private Members' Bill to regulate Physician Associates