After the year the Health Secretary has had I would not blame him if he took time out to get ‘away from it all’ on Scilly.
However, downtime was the last thing on his mind when he flew over to St Mary’s after travelling down to Penzance on the GWR Sleeper Service. He and I immediately met with councillors and staff who presented to us the work done to integrate health and social care on Scilly and we met with Cornwall NHS Foundation senior staff who have been closely engaged in this project ever since the only ‘nursing home’ came close to closure five years ago. Back then we secured some additional cash from Government to find an immediate solution and then set off down the track to identify what an integrated care model for health and social care could look like. We now have a plan and Matt Hancock has all he needs to hopefully enable this to happen. Spending vast sums of cash on such a remote community is necessary but very difficult to justify under current NHS spending rules. However, a successful integration on Scilly will provide many additional benefits for Scilly and provide a blueprint of integrated care in West Cornwall and elsewhere. He also met with the vaccination team who had been mentioned in dispatches as part of the best performing Primary Care Networks in England (South Kerrier).
Next month we find out how a local community can ‘save’ a community asset as the Government sets out the definitive list of eligible assets for a £150m Community Asset Fund. Post offices and pubs are likely candidates and I’m already in discussion with community groups where these are at risk. For some communities the sub-post office is long gone and thus is despite a ‘non-closure programme’. In other words Post Office Ltd has no right to deprive communities such as Porthleven, Newlyn, Carbis Bay and possibly Mousehole of a sub-post office. I’ve written to Post Office Ltd to ask exactly what is being done to secure post office services in these and other areas and raised it with the Post Office Minister in a meeting on Tuesday evening.
Despite £millions spent repairing and upgrading Penzance Promenade (which is now returned to one of our greatest assets in West Cornwall) no effort has been made to communicate how accessible the seafront now is to everyone including those with mobility issues. As things stand there is currently no accessibility information online about Penzance Promenade for residents and visitors on local council, tourist and specialised disability organisation websites except Jubilee Pool (the Jubilee Pool accessibility information is a master class on how to communicate this information well). Deputy Town Mayor Cllr William Elliott, and I are looking at how we can get the information to those who would now benefit from this improved access.
For all the challenges associated with the G7 Summit one area that is welcome is the collaboration between all Government Departments, the police, healthcare and Cornwall Council. It is remarkable how an event of this scale drives away the unnecessary obstacles and differences and focus the collective mind on the task ahead. Which is to host a safe and effective summit without unnecessary disruption or distress for those of us privileged to live here.