A positive New Year's message: Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust been granted an additional £1,595,000.00 funding to help cope with Winter pressures. I know that (despite the significant other challenges facing Treliske in particular) our hospitals and our wider health system has prepared earlier and more extensively than ever before for this Winter. Everyone concerned has been working incredibly hard to increase beds and make sure there is strong social care and community care support available to help discharge patients from hospital quickly. I visited our local hospitals to chat with the nursing staff and patients and I'm so grateful for the very special effort NHS staff give to ensure patients are comfortable and have the healthcare they need. The extra funding was announced as part of a £337m immediate funding boost for NHS hospitals this Winter, in addition to an extra £2.8bn investment over the next two years. Overall funding for the NHS in Cornwall and Scilly is set to increase by £142 million by 2020/21.
Another important announcement was the extra £370 million for the UK's Post Office network. Under Labour 7,300 post offices closed. Since 2010 only 300 post offices have closed across the UK - further closures have been averted by £2.4billion direct investment by Government in post office services. This is important because, with news of bank closures, post offices serve an increasingly important role for small businesses and local residents. The Post Office is at the heart of our communities. We rely on local branches every day to access a wide range of services. In fact 95 per cent of small business customers can access everyday banking services in Post Offices, making it easier to carry out their business activity. A number of post offices have an uncertain future in our rural villages, including the Lizard. Having looked closely at this issue it is clear to me that local retailers do not see the addition of post offices services in their store as an attractive or viable option. I pressed the Business Secretary for more support for rural post offices so that Post Office Ltd could offer bespoke packages to local businesses in order to retain rural services. I will be looking closely to see how this money is used to meet the needs of rural areas such as the Lizard.
A final announcement to mention, as we welcome in the New Year, is the Government's accelerated action to address plastic waste including a four point plan to tackle this problem. This includes reducing the number of plastics to make it easier for recycling firms, cutting single-use plastics such as straws and coffee cups, improving the recycling rate and making it easier for families to tell what can be recycled and what has to go in the general rubbish bin. I know that protecting our oceans and wildlife from the scrounge of plastic is absolutely the right thing to do and by taking action on this in 2018 we can help to encourage other nations to follow suit.
Picture: My Christmas card design by Lottie Jordan, age 7. This year's Christmas Card was once again designed by children at St Buryan Academy, our local village school.