Liberal Democrats will be putting the spotlight on the county's NHS funding crisis at the last council meeting before Gloucestershire goes to the polls in May.
NHS services in Gloucestershire currently face a funding gap of £226million by 2020-21, an analysis of local NHS plans has found.
Both locally and nationally, the Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government’s failure to provide enough extra cash for the NHS in the recent Spring budget, warning that local services will struggle to cope with growing demand.
Now the Lib Dems are warning of possible hospital closures too.
The Deputy Group Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Chair of the Council’s Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr. Iain Dobie (Leckhampton and Warden Hill) will be leading the debate at Shire Hall on Wednesday 22 March:
He is calling for a letter to be written by Conservative bosses to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, requesting that a long-term settlement is agreed for the NHS and Care Services.
In commenting, Cllr. Dobie said:
“The impact of this serious financial crisis in the NHS can been seen locally affecting ambulance response times, A and E waiting times, the length of time it takes to get a GP appointment and changes to the Minor Injury and Illness Units across the county.
“The Hospitals Trust which runs Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal will start the new financial year with over £40m in deficit. This will undoubtedly mean “rationalising” services currently offered in both Cheltenham and Gloucester hospitals.
“Across our county, we have seen more overnight restrictions to Minor Illness and Injury Units in the last year and I would predict that the upcoming roll-out of the Government’s so-called “Sustainability and Transformation Plans” may well lead to the complete closure of at least one of the County’s local hospitals.It may even be your local hospital.”
Spokesperson for Long-term Care, Cllr. David Brown (LD: Barnwood and Hucclecote) has praised those working for the NHS at this difficult time and added:
“There isn’t a day that goes by without the NHS hitting the national headlines. I am in no doubt that this has a huge impact on the morale of NHS staff. In Gloucestershire there are over 8,000 staff providing specialist, personalised care to a population of more than 600,000. In amidst such financial uncertainty, the dedication and tireless work of all those employed within the NHS must be highly commended.”
But Cllr. Brown warned of bigger problems to come:
“NHS trusts in England are facing a black hole of nearly £900million this year; it is both unaffordable and unsustainable.
“Government needs to act now in finding a long-term financial settlement to save our most cherished NHS.”
The Liberal Democrats nationally called for £4 billion of extra NHS and care funding for 2017-18 ahead of the Spring Budget, including £2bn for social care, £1.5bn to improve efficiency in the NHS and £500m dedicated funding for mental health.