Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How not to get ministers to visit hospitals in your constituency

I have reported on my hospitals blog here that David Mowat M.P, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, visited Furness General and Millom hospitals yesterday to see and experience some of the innovative work ongoing as part of the Better Care Together strategy.

Mr Mowat, who has been in the job since July this year, has a brief which includes adult social care, carers, community services, cancer, dementia, learning disabilities and all elements of primary care – including dentistry and pharmacy.

Cumbria is a huge county, and it is ridiculous to suggest that one ministerial visit could possibly cover all the medical issues going on in the county which we might want ministers to come and see. It is fairly obvious that Mr Mowat had a full programme -  see below.

I think it would be an extremely good thing if there were a ministerial visit to West Cumberland Hospital involving as senior a minister as we can persuade to come to Whitehaven.

But it is childish and counterproductive to accuse a minister who does take the trouble to come to Cumbria of "snubbing" a hospital an hour's drive away on one of the worst roads in the country (which was blocked by floods at one point this week) because he did not try to cover every hospital  in this enormous county in one visit.

The Labour MP for Copeland was not acting in the interests of his constituents when he accused the Health minister of snubbing West Cumberland Hospital: he was acting like a student politician scoring childish factional points.

If Mr Mowat had been only a short distance away from WCH it would have been a fair point. A few years ago when Andrew Lansley was in Whitehaven to visit a dental surgery I persuaded him to include a stop at WCH and meet the team preparing the bid for the Hospital rebuild as well.

But we all know what the A595 from Millom to Whitehaven is like and it is not comparable to a trip from the waterfront to Hensingham.

Did the minister already have a full day? I'll let you judge.

At FGH the Minister met Dr John Howarth, Aaron Cummins, and Dr Paul Grout, who are senior managers of the Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust and University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (Dr Howarth is also Professor of Primary Care at University of Cumbria).

His visit took in the Emergency Department where the Minister got to learn about the telehealth scheme which aims to reduce the number of unnecessary patient journeys to the department from Millom. He was shown a high definition camera and monitor which is linked up to a similar facility in Millom and which allows two- way consultations to take place. This means that health professionals in Millom can call on the expertise of senior consultants in the Emergency Department to remotely triage a patient.

Mr Mowat also spent time with staff who are working to reduce delayed transfers of care by partnership working, and met Dr Geoff Jolliffe, GP and Locality Lead for Furness who gave him a tour of the soon to be built Alfred Barrow Primary Care Centre where he was able to view and discuss plans for the new building.

Dr Jolliffe said: “I am extremely pleased that the Under Secretary of State got to see the Alfred Barrow site, which when developed, will make a massive difference for the people of Barrow. It means that primary, community and social care services will be working together from one place which encourages partnership working and consequently an improved experience for patients.”

The Under Secretary of State then went to Millom where he was given a tour of the Millom Community Hospital and GP surgery. He was given a first-hand experience of a teleconsultation appointment using the high definition camera and monitor which is linked to the facility he had seen that morning at FGH.

The minister also met representatives of the Millom Health Action Group who told him about their community led initiatives over a working lunch.

Dr John Howarth said: “It was important for the Minister to meet the Millom Health Action Group as we are working hand in hand with the community who have driven a variety of innovative ideas and projects locally. It’s quite astonishing to see what can be achieved when health and care providers work directly with the community. He also got to see for himself, the working conditions in which the GPs are currently operating and learned about the plans for extending the GP surgery as well as the innovative ways that the health providers are working as partners with the surgery.”

Jenny Brumby, from Millom Health Action Group said: “Millom Health Action Group welcomed the Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care David Mowat MP to Millom yesterday to see the great collaboration between the NHS and the Millom Community. The new telehealth link in Millom surgery will eventually reduce the miles Millom people will have to travel for care. Our Community is thankful that their ideas are being put into practice and Millom has a very healthy future.”

More details at Cumbria Crack here.


Jim said...

"But we all know what the A595 from Millom to Whitehaven is like and it is not comparable to a trip from the waterfront to Hensingham."

No its not comparable at all, but then that is one of the major underlying issues with health care in West Cumbria is it not?

Chris Whiteside said...