The NHS in Chelmsford

The NHS in Chelmsford and Mid Essex

I come from a medical family and am married to a doctor, so I see every day the incredible hard work done by the amazing staff within the NHS.  It is our most precious public service and I passionately support the NHS.

There is additional funding and investment going into the NHS, but there is also an increasing level of demand. This is partly because on average people are living longer and this means we all need more support from the NHS during our lives. There is also a very serious need to improve and better integrate social care provisions as these are also under increased pressure due to changing demographics. We do need to have a deep discussion as a nation about the long term provision for both social care and health care. In all decisions about the NHS, patients' interests must come first.  Patient outcome, patient health and patient safety must be at the heart of all decisions.

National Situation 

This Government has committed £10 billion in new funding for the NHS since last November alone. Nationally, the Government is providing an additional £6.3 billion investment for NHS England; compromising of £2.8 billion resource funding, and £3.5 billion capital investment. In the Spring Budget, the Government invested £2 billion over the next three years for adult social care, alongside £100 million for streaming programmes in hospital A&Es. The Autumn Budget backed this with further money- an additional £337 million to support resilience during winter, with our area receiving just over £3 million from this budget. Amongst others, this money will reach trusts serving Chelmsford.

Since 2010 there are over 31,400 extra clinical staff, and by 2020 the Government will ensure that the NHS will have over 11,000 more doctors, including consultants and GPs. Additionally, the Government has announced plans to train an increase of at least 1,500 Doctors per year. Changes to student funding will enable universities to provide up to 10,000 additional nursing, midwifery, and allied health training places by 2020.

Local Situation

Whilst there is increased pressure on services it is also correct to state that NHS funding and facilities are being increased significantly in Mid & South Essex. There are also very substantial plans for improving specialist care.

As a candidate in the General Election in 2017 I promised I will always fight to maintain 24 hour emergency services at Broomfield.  It is excellent news that Broomfield will retain it's 24 hour A&E service. This is very important for Chelmsford. 

Increasing Capacity

In Mid Essex the NHS capacity has increased significantly.  There are now 121 more hospital doctors and 191 more nurses than in 2010. The NHS is performing more operations and diagnostic tests than ever before. In 2016/17 the NHS locally carried out 72,235 operations an increase of 9,035 since 2009/10. Diagnostic tests increased from 73,587 in 2009/10 to 119,446 in 2016/17.  

Funding is also increasing. This year the NHS partnership for Mid and South Essex received £1.9 billion. By 2020/2021 this is expected to rise by £331.7 million, which will be a cash increase of 19%. The Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group received £451.7 million in 2017/18 which was a cash increase of 2.52% on the previous year. This is set to receive £462.8 million in 2018/19, which will be a cash increase of 2.45%.                                 

Investing in new facilities (STP)

Mid Essex is planning over £118m capital investment in hospital buildings and sites to increase the total number of hospital beds by at least fifty, build new and efficient operating theatres and improve technology to make it easier to work across sites.

All three main hospitals will benefit from additional investment with £41million to be invested in Southend Hospital, £30million at Basildon Hospital and £19million in Broomfield Hospital.  It is intended that a further £28m will be invested in additional technology and facilities that will benefit all three hospitals such as ensuring shared records across all sites.  A public consultation is taking place to enable a detailed business plan to be submitted before final approval. This process is likely to be completed in late summer 2018.

Staffing and Training New Doctors

Recruitment in Mid Essex has been challenging for many years. The impact of this is felt on our local GP services as well as specialist and hospital services.  There are many reasons for this but it is partly because staff working in London are paid higher salaries.  There is also no existing Medical School in Essex for our talented young people to train to become doctors locally.

Anglia Ruskin University has announced plans to open a new Medical School in Chelmsford, and they will welcome their first intake of students in September 2018. It is extremely good news that over 400 students have applied for the training places. This means we will be training the next generation of doctors in Chelmsford. This is already increasing the opportunities for experienced staff to take part in research and teaching.

Specialist Care Provision

For the most severe emergencies it is specialist care that saves lives, meaning it is necessary for some patients to travel further for treatment.  For over 10 years the NHS has been developing networks to provide this sort of care.

Mid Essex NHS contains one of four specialist Burns Units in the country. The St Andrews Centre at Broomfield provides this specialism to nearly 10 million people across London and the whole of East Anglia. Patients with severe burns in any of these areas are likely to come to Broomfield for treatment.  Incidentally this means that there must be a 24-hour A&E and paediatric service on site to support the burns unit.

Patients with the most severe injuries from Chelmsford and the rest of the East of England are already taken straight to the Major Trauma Centres at Cambridge or London for treatment, often they are taken by Air Ambulance.

Mid Essex also contains a PCI centre. These centres emerged after medical evidence recommends that patients with a heart attack should usually go straight to a cardiac specialist for treatment called PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention). Patients without access to PCI Centres can have waits of up to 43 minutes. Those minutes count, which is why most Chelmsford patients already go straight to Basildon, our local PCI centre.

There is significant national and international evidence that patients treated in a Specialist Stroke Unit in the first 72-hour period following a stroke, have better chances of survival and recovery. The Mid & South Essex stroke services do well in many ways, but we could do better; none of the three hospitals currently have the right number of specialists to provide the level of specialist care needed. The Hospitals are considering joining together their stroke teams, to provide a specialist service, on top of continuing to provide stroke care at each of our three hospitals. They propose a new specialist stroke unit at Basildon, due to its close links with the existing Essex Cardiothoracic Centre. Staff would be equipped and able to diagnose and stabilise the patient’s condition and initiate treatment. Advanced imaging and initial treatment for most strokes would continue to be available at each local A&E.

Our NHS services are invaluable and I hope this overview is helpful. There is a huge amount of information available on many other areas of the NHS which I have not covered here.