Local MP Steve Barclay pays a ministerial visit to North Cambs Hospital in Wisbech on a fact finding mission on how to localise more health services
Local MP Steve Barclay carried out a fact finding mission to Wisbech’s North Cambs Hospital as part of his role as a health minister.
The North East Cambridgeshire MP was keen to find out how services can be improved in rural areas like Fenland which have poor transport links to major hospitals and said there could even be a return to something like cottage hospitals.
Mr Barclay, who as a constituency MP launched a Treat Me Local campaign in 2014 to bring health services closer to home, was keen to discover what more can be done to make life easier for patients, while at the same time helping to save the NHS money.
During Tuesday’s visit Mr Barclay met with Tracy Dowling, chief executive of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation, Matthew Winn, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust as well as staff including district nurses.
He put aside is MP role making it clear the visit was in his ministerial capacity but pointing out: “Because I know Cambridgeshire, its geography and the issues that people face accessing health services, it makes it a good place to come to learn what we can do nationally to localise services. We need to make sure that whatever we decide to do will work within a rural setting.
“All too often we see schemes being rolled out that are not suitable for this kind of area because they are geared to big towns and cities.
“As an MP I have been keen to look at ways of improving services within the local community, now I am looking at doing that on a national level.”
Mr Barclay added: “National statistics show that 43 per cent of acute hospital beds are filled by people who don’t need to clinically be there. Each bed costs £100,000 a year to run, so it is a massive expense to the NHS.”
Mr Barclay also said long hospital stays are bad for patients causing what one nurse at the North Cambs termed “pj paralysis”, where patients suffer muscle deterioration as a result of being less mobile in hospital.
“The longer patients stay in hospital the worse it is for their health due to muscle deterioration. The faster we can get them out and into rehabilitation and back home the better it is for the patient,” said Mr Barclay.
He said places like the North Cambs and Doddington Hospitals have a major role to play in easing the burden on major hospitals, which often struggle with bed shortages.
Mr Barclay also agreed that what could be considered is a return to something like the old cottage hospitals which offer a half-way house for patients. A place for people to go after an acute hospital stay.
Alternatively they could provide “step-up services” for those who need more care than can be provided in their home, but who are not bad enough to be in a major hospital.
Mr Barclay, who also took the opportunity to see for himself the improvements being made following an £8million investment at the North Cambs, which includes new facilities for muscular skeletal patients, rehabilitation and a new gym, said new technology could also be used to bring services closer to home.
“We are looking at using new technology where patients can access the top consultants without either of them having to travel. Instead they would be able to have a consultation in a cubicle via something like Skype.
“But that doesn’t mean I am not still keen to have more services provided outside of major hospitals, but that requires a change in people’s behaviour and that is not always easy to achieve.”