With the Brexit situation evolving hourly, anything I write on Tuesday evening will probably be out of date by Thursday morning. So instead I want to focus on another important issue which will have a major impact on Cheltenham in the next decade – this week’s launch of the Long Term Plan for the NHS.
This plan has rightly been developed by clinicians and experts, not politicians. It is underpinned by a large injection of cash, with funding rising from £122 billion a year in 2018 to £149 billion a year in 2023. That’s £20.5 billion more annually, over and above inflation. The boost will sustain and enhance one of this nation’s proudest principles: that healthcare should be provided free at the point of need, regardless of ability to pay.
At the heart of the plan is the belief that prevention is better than cure. That’s why the biggest increase in funding will go to primary and community care, with an extra £4.5 billion a year going to GPs, health visitors and community nurses. That means an extra £30 million-plus for Gloucestershire.
There’s a flagship ambition too to improve cancer survival rates, with cancer patients in Cheltenham being offered the latest genomic testing to better tailor treatment, and move away from one-size-fits-all medicine. And it will help with the campaign to secure a second £2 million LINAC radiotherapy machine for our oncology centre.
Gloucestershire will also be one of twenty-five mental health “trailblazer” regions, meaning the NHS is uniting with schools and colleges to create Mental Health Support teams based near campuses. The first cohort of experts have started their training, and the teams will roll out next year. Tackling the tragedy of poor teenage mental health has been a key priority for me as Cheltenham’s MP. This investment lays the ground for early intervention that can transform lives - and even save them too.
This is a plan that delivers for Cheltenham, now and in the future.