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Guest column by Harriett Baldwin MP

24th April 2017

The NHS is vitally important to all of us. The principle that no one should ever have to worry about their ability to pay for their healthcare is a profound expression of our values as a nation.

Patients, doctors and nurses are the experts on how to improve people's health, so we have given greater power and accountability to the frontline than any other government. Locally, our GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups spend their rising budgets with our acute and community hospitals, as well as with local private hospitals like Spire in Worcester.

Last year the NHS in England carried out 11.6 million operations; up 20% from 2009/10. In addition, the NHS carried out 20.2 million diagnostic tests - up 41% in eight years!.

Health budgets are rising, but clearly so is demand. An ageing population places more pressure on health and social care, and life-saving but expensive new drugs push up costs. And we are enjoying a period where our life expectancy is increasing by five hours a day! According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, health costs for an eighty-five year old are four times those of a thirty year old, and they double again by ninety.

The benefit of having such fine countryside and fresh air in Worcestershire is that people maintain a healthy and active lifestyle and our life expectancy is even longer than average.

Over the past month I have me local health chiefs and health ministers to discuss what we can do to help take the pressure of our hard-pressed Worcestershire Royal Hospital. There is a clear consensus that we can do more to help people away from Accident and Emergency. This means making more of our valuable community hospitals like Tenbury, Malvern and Pershore and I have been pleased to hear both the local Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Acute Trust support this.

Nationally, the NHS chief executive has completed a further review on how to cope with rising demand and proposals like reducing prescriptions on gluten-free bread, paracetamol and indigestion tablets are on the table. I'm confident that under newly appointed senior management, the NHS Acute Trust will get out of special measures and I support its bid for extra investment to help deliver the best possible care for local people.

Harriett says...

Harriett Baldwin
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