David Ruffley - MP for Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Needham Market

Hot Local Issues

Local health crisis

The crisis in our local Health Service seems to worsen by the week. I am monitoring the situation on a weekly and daily basis but things do not appear to be improving.
I know from speaking to local people and meeting those working in the local Health Service how worried people are about the crisis in Suffolk.
I have been equally appalled by the cuts and closures across our region. Having been a patient on a West Suffolk ward I know at first hand how dedicated our support staff, nurses and doctors are. The hardworking staff in the local health service are not getting the funding they need and this will be having a negative effect on morale.
The Government tells us that more money than ever is being devoted to the NHS. We all agree with that. Why then do we hear of cutbacks and closures? This summer we have heard that ward closures will mean 50 beds will be lost at the West Suffolk. On top of this 220 jobs are to be axed and 2 surgical theatres closed.
Only last month hundreds of concerned residents took to the streets of Sudbury to march against the proposed closure of the Walnuttree Hospital. The closure of this hospital, which deals with over 30,000 outpatient appointments a year, will only put extra strain on the hospital and staff in Bury and elsewhere in Suffolk. This is not good enough. The extra funding, that we all support, is not reaching the front line.
The Strategic Health Authority (SHA) for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire is supposed to support and advise the local Primary Care Trusts and Hospital Trusts. The SHA has simply not been doing its job. In 2004/05 four of the five PCTs and both the acute trusts in Suffolk were overspent by a total of £37 million. The SHA, which itself costs millions of pounds to run, should be scrapped and the money redirected to those who need it most – the professionals and patients.
There are excellent services provided in our area by GP practices, such as StowHealth practice in Stowmarket, that will be under strain because of the deficits that have been run up by the PCTs. These services must be protected and not pay the price for financial mismanagement by local NHS Trusts.
But it is not just mismanagement. Funding per Suffolk patient that comes from London is way below other parts of the country. That’s what Suffolk MPs of all political colours must continue to bang on about in Westminster. Suffolk needs a fairer deal.