It was brilliant to be able to speak today in Parliament in a debate about Health and Social Care and NHS workforce planning and supply. Here in Cornwall NHS Staff do fantastic job in making sure people get the best possible care. However we all know they are not always able to compete against lack of staff and other issues such as underfunded services.
I do not think all the solutions to the NHS can be developed in Westminster or the Government, it is people on the ground, working in health and social care who are best placed to help come up with solutions. In West Cornwall we have a great network of health and social care professionals working together locally, coming up with ways to better integrate care and through this there has been much improvement. No doubt that there is a challenge for the work force, and whilst the NHS 10 Year Plan is obviously a good framework for improvement, much will rely on addressing staffing issues both short and long term. The media have helped foster an environment that puts people off from going into into the health sector because of what a perceived political hot potato it is.
We need to set the tone to open up the opportunities better.
We also need to remove barriers to entry. Removing the nursing bursary for mature students has proved to be a big mistake, and has led to a real shortage of people, particularly older people studying for healthcare roles. I have been advised that podiatry will not be taught in Plymouth in September due to lack of demand and this will doubtless cause a major problem, as people tend to stay where they study. I am working to help address these barriers so people can work and train locally in a way that is affordable. A new Health and Care Academy is working to use the apprenticeship levy to recruit 200 trainee nurses in the next 2 years, enabling a more robust local work force. Training nurses locally means they are more likely to remain in Cornwall, making our local NHS less reliant on agency staffing.
One problem is also awareness, I recently held an NHS+ Event to showcase training and job opportunities locally, I will be publishing details of what is available from the groups that attended in the near future.
At the best of times and worst of times we need to make sure people are getting good quality care – I will continue working with the Minister, the NHS and local health and care professionals to improve health and social care and make sure there are adequate training opportunities for people here in Cornwall.
During the comments, the Health Minister said that he would write to me about positive news about podiatry in the South West.
To read the full debate please click here.