Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Cambridge MP takes fight for better health funding to Parliament

MP Julian Huppert is taking his fight over Cambridgeshire’s cash-strapped health services to Parliament tomorrow (Wednesday, December 10).

He will lead a debate in Westminster Hall on Mental Health and the Cambridgeshire Health Economy as he pushes for a fairer deal for the county.

And today (Tuesday, December 9) Julian led a delegation of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group to see Health and Social Care Minister Norman Lamb to discuss the issues.

Julian will tell Parliament how Cambridgeshire receives £35 million less than the Government's own calculations for a fair allocation of NHS money. This leaves us as the second lowest funded per head in the country. In a fast-growing county with an ageing population this puts an incredible strain on services, he says.

“And, in addition we have the massive costs of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital privatisation and the huge PFI contracts at Hinchingbrooke and Peterborough Hospitals – a result of poor decisions made by the Labour government,” says Julian. “The Peterborough PFI contract actually costs 18 per cent of the total annual budget for the hospital – that’s a huge bill.”

Julian will welcome the extra £2 billion of government money for the NHS, and in particular Mental Health and the legislation that achieves parity of esteem between physical and mental health. He will press for a fair share of that money to go to areas like Cambridgeshire that get low funding levels, not just to top up those already running surpluses.

And he will welcome the decision of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group to allocate an extra £1.5 million to mental health this year and a further £2.2 million from April to improve patients’ access to psychological therapies.

“But we need to go further,” said Julian, “and we can only do that if we get a fairer funding share allocation and more money for mental health. That is why I have launched my petition calling for an extra £500 million to be spent on mental health year on year. Mental Health has been ignored for far too long, causing harm to many vulnerable people.

“In contrast, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary has said that the NHS should not have any more money until it becomes more efficient, that would mean depriving patients of essential treatments and potentially cutting back on services; this is absolutely wrong.

“Labour was also wrong to push ahead with privatisation in the NHS – it left the country with a huge financial burden. As a result of the deals they struck medical spending on non-NHS providers increased from £1.1 billion in 1997/8 to £7.5 billion by 2009/10. They left our hospitals on the verge of bankruptcy with health outcomes well below the EU15 average.

“I was determined to try to stop this government making the same mistakes; that is why I opposed Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill and voted for a Private Member’s Bill which set out to undo the worst bits of that legislation.”

Julian will welcome the recent decision to allow Cambridgeshire’s contract for elderly services to stay within the NHS, for which he campaigned hard. And he will welcome the Lib Dem initiated Crisis Care Concordat for mental health, to which Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have signed up, which seeks to encourage joined up working between the NHS and the police for prevention and early intervention by sharing information.

“We have made some real headway in addressing some of the problems in our NHS but there is still a long way to go to achieving efficient, cost-effective health services and we can only do that if we invest,” added Julian.

“I will continue to push for a fairer funding deal for Cambridgeshire so that our county and others across the country can get the money they need to deliver the level of care we deserve.”

Julian’s debate Mental Health and the Cambridgeshire Health Economy will take place tomorrow (Wednesday, December 10) at Westminster Hall at 4pm.