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 

The Government has recently announced a Long Term Plan for the NHS. This was developed in partnership with those who know the NHS best – frontline health and care staff, patients and their families and other experts. It follows the announcement of an additional £20.5 billion a year for the NHS by 2023-24. This means the NHS will receive an average 3.4 per cent a year real-terms increase.

There will be a new focus on prevention – with £4.5 billion being invested in primary and community care – personal responsibility and promoting good health, and more rapid diagnostics and new treatments that will improve the care you receive. From birth, through the challenges that life brings and into old age, the plan will ensure that the NHS is:

  • Providing the best maternity care in the world – to ensure every baby gets the best start in life by continuing to improve maternity safety and providing greater mental health support to new parents.
  • Supporting ageing and increasing independence – to support people to age well by bringing different health and care teams together to make sure older people are getting the support they need to remain independent, avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions.
  • Improving outcomes for all major conditions – Through better prevention, detection, treatment and recovery from serious diseases, we will improve health outcomes so people live longer and healthier.
  • Increasing the NHS workforce – improving access to mental health, primary care and community services, with tens of thousands more doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
  • Bringing the NHS into the digital age – rolling out new digital technologies to deliver improved access to NHS services. This will mean everyone in the country will have digital access to their GP, including being able to make appointments, manage prescriptions and view their health records online.
  • Cutting waste across the NHS – including through introducing new digital techniques and making back office savings of more than £700 million across the NHS.

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 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 102 more hospital doctors and 162 more nurses than in 2010. The NHS is performing more operations and diagnostic tests than ever before. In 2017/18 the NHS locally carried out 69,806 operations an increase of 6,606 since 2009/10. Diagnostic tests increased from 73,587 in 2009/10 to 76,461 in 2017/18.  

Funding is also increasing. This year the NHS partnership for Mid and South Essex received £1.9 billion. This is an increase of £62.6 million on the previous year, which will be a cash increase of 3.4%. The Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group will receive £462.6 million this year, which was a cash increase of 3.31% on the previous year.

 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 in the Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust 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. This is awaiting sign off from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

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 nearby London are paid higher salaries.  Until recently there was also no Medical School in Essex for our talented young people to train to become doctors locally.

Anglia Ruskin University has now opened a new Medical School in Chelmsford. It is extremely good news and will train 100 new doctors in Chelmsford each year, specialising especially in mental health and general practice. 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. 

Spring 2019