DEREK SPEAKS UP FOR WEST CORNWALL HOSPITAL AND ST MARY’S
DEREK DEMANDS ACTION FROM THE MINISTER FOR HEALTH AS PARLIAMENT RETURNS
Derek Thomas has used a Westminster debate on Small Hospitals to demand action from the Treasury on capital works at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance and St Mary’s Hospital on Scilly.
Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely had brought a debate in Westminster Hall on “Unavoidably Small Hospitals” - those hospitals in remote or less populated areas which do not receive the same attention or funding as our larger district general hospitals. Many of the issues he raised for patients on the Isle of Wight apply even more to residents on the Isles of Scilly, as Derek pointed out.
Westminster Hall debates give backbenchers an opportunity to bring concerns to Parliament, and a minister – in this case, the Minister for Health Maria Caulfield – has to respond to their concerns. Maria Caulfield agreed that small hospitals are “a vital part of the NHS family”, and promised to tackle the issues of funding and staff recruitment and retention that MPs like Bob and Derek raised.
The debate was the first opportunity Derek has had to raise in Parliament the pausing of funding for capital works at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance and St Mary’s Hospital in Scilly. Derek has been raising the issue with ministers privately, but debates like this make concerns a matter of public record.
“For all the pressures and concerns about urgent care hospitals we have heard from constituents over the recess, some could have been eased if the capital programme had moved just a bit quicker.
“The building work [at West Cornwall Hospital] is ready to go. It should have been opened by next year, but it was paused by the Treasury. The work has all been done locally, the plans are agreed and the hospital wants to get on and build it.
“[The integrated health hub on St Mary’s] has sat with the Department of Health for a very long time. We were under the impression that could have been built this year. We urgently need a decision.
“A lot of the delays that are putting pressure on the system across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly unfortunately sit with the Department of Health.”
Derek also used his speech to thank the NHS staff in St Mary’s, Helston Community Hospital and West Cornwall Hospital for their work under incredible pressure.
In her response, Maria Caulfield agreed to pursue all the matters raised by MPs with her fellow ministers and Department for Health officials.
“The conversation about NHS services in Cornwall has, rightly, focused on Treliske. The Department for Health now has a plan for tackling delays in our main hospital – but our smaller hospitals could and should be playing their part in caring for our local communities and easing the pressure on Treliske.
“People in West Cornwall and Scilly are frustrated that these plans, which are ready to move forward, are being put on hold, and I wanted to make sure the government know I share that frustration and want action as soon as possible.”