Westminster Column

25th November 2016

There is naturally always concern whenever change is mentioned for our NHS. But the reality is that the change in Sutton Coldfield has almost always been for the better. Recently I have had discussions with those who are responsible for drawing up future plans, and it is clear - beyond doubt - that their intentions are to improve the service upon which we all depend. The Government is providing an extra £10 billion for our NHS, and we must ensure that this money is spent to best possible effect.

It is important that we give the professionals drawing up these plans the space to do so without often politically motivated protest groups springing up to disparage what is being done. This has two negative effects in particular: firstly it frightens vulnerable people who are dependent on the NHS for their support, and secondly it stifles or curtails legitimate discussion about what will be for the best. In my experience those who are formulating plans for the future are not bad people bent on destroying our NHS, but good public servants deploying their expertise to our advantage. I would ask that they are given the time to consult and formulate proposals - upon which there will be full public consultation thereafter.

Currently there are two separate processes in play. The first is that Heart of England is now greatly benefitting from the expertise received from the QE, which is arguably one of the finest hospitals in the world and is also extremely well run by probably the best health civil servant in the country - Dame Julie Moore. When, during discussions with her, I sought an absolute assurance on the future of the Sutton Coldfield Accident and Emergency Department - which has been the subject of ill informed political comment in the past - it was explained (to my complete satisfaction) that the health service in and around Birmingham simply could not function without an Accident and Emergency Department based at Good Hope.

The second process in play is the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (the STPs) which seek to set out our NHS’s vision for the future. In each of the 44 local areas commissioners, providers and local authorities have come together to decide how to improve services and realise this vision. The plans will then be published with full public engagement and consultation. No changes will be made without full and proper consultation, but I am convinced from what I have already heard that changes will further develop the services upon which we rely.

We have recently had the new £3.2 million Acute Medical Unit at Good Hope opened this summer by Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, as further evidence of new investment boosting the services provided by Good Hope.