Getting the NHS backlog moving and tackling the cost of social care

This week Parliament will be voting on the Government’s new announcements on tackling the NHS backlog and funding for social care. During the pandemic, my inbox has been busy with concerned patients who have needed both urgent and routine medical support. I take my hat off to our local GPs, care homes and hospital staff, who have been responding so well to the challenges of the last 18 months. As we move forward, it is essential that the backlog of operations is reduced. It is vital that we move back to a prescription of preventative care, early diagnosis and first stage intervention. These ‘stitch in time’ approaches have made so much difference in recent years to stopping more serious conditions, keeping people healthy throughout their lives and saving lives from the most serious illnesses.

That’s why I welcome the Government’s commitment to extra substantial investment to speed through the backlog that we have had since the pandemic, as well as to invest in social care. For too long, social care has been left in the “too difficult to solve” box. My job, and the job of all of us in Parliament, is to do the hard things as well as the easier. That sometimes means doing things that are unpopular in order to do something which is the right thing to do. The decision to put further substantial investment into the NHS and an integrated social care approach is the right thing to do.

However, such a welcome further boost for the backlog and social care does need paying for. The levels of Government borrowing to respond to the pandemic have been eye-watering and will take many years to fully address. That’s why the decision has been made to put up taxes to pay for the health backlog and fund social care. It will be essential to look at the burden of taxes overall and to commit to reducing that over time. Alongside investment in the here and now, we must ensure that we continue to modernise and make every pound and penny count on the frontline.

Over the last few years, our area has benefitted from some significant investment. The state-of-the-art Buckland Hospital; a ground-breaking Harmonia dementia village, the first of its type in the entire country; a national pilot approach to wound treatment at the Victoria Hospital in Deal; an East Kent medical school, and extra NHS dentists. There’s more to do, particularly on mental health, better hospital standards and ambulance response times. I am committed to ensuring our health and social care services go from strength to strength.

This pandemic backlog is causing real distress, as is the failure to grasp the nettle of social care. I see that in my inbox, as do all Members of Parliament. I therefore strongly welcome this funding, this new approach and this commitment to tackle the issue. To tackle the NHS backlog, and invest in social care.

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