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Column 15th July 2020

Is there any funding for a catch-up of Health and Care services?

Last week included not just the initial road closures in Wantage (covered in last week’s paper) but also the Chancellor's summer statement.

Yet despite announcing a “plan for jobs” to protect, create and support employment there was no mention of any plan to increase support for the NHS or Social Care.

Even before Covid-19 arrived on the scene we have reported on the problems of recruitment of NHS and care staff in Oxfordshire and the crisis can only exacerbate the situation.

We’ve heard a lot about the health services which have been put on hold while priority was (and still is) given to tackling the virus but nothing about plans to catch up.

Before his statement Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that he would pump billions of pounds into the NHS and stand by his pledge to do "whatever it takes" to protect the service. Yet the NHS wasn’t mentioned in the Summer Statement.

Apparently Mr Sunak has agreed to a cash injection for the NHS and will sign off the money once NHS leaders produce details showing what they need.

If they take as long to make decisions as they have about Wantage Hospital it may take some time.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has insisted the NHS will be given the funding it needs.

But this isn’t enough.

They have talked about more money for PPE and extra beds but where will the extra staff come from and how will they catch up on all those waiting for scheduled and postponed treatment?

Earlier this year, the government spent over £220 million on the set-up of the Nightingale Hospitals expected to be required for Covid-19 patients but only two of these hospitals were used for a few weeks.

Now some of these newly-built Nightingale hospitals are being converted into cancer testing centres to clear a huge backlog of suspected cancer patients.

The chief executive of NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens recently announced that the Exeter Nightingale started screening patients in early July and the Nightingale in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, had started offering CT scans for suspected cancer sufferers in early June.

What about Oxfordshire?

Will there be any plans for additional staff and facilities here for either the NHS or for social care?

Perhaps there should be additional funding to recruit additional nurses and carers and ensure that the money is there to provide the care needed regardless of the effects of Covid-19.


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