Shropshire Star comment: Extra NHS investment is overdue
Health services in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin have been beset with problems for some time.
There have been multiple issues facing patients, NHS staff and health managers, which have caused chronic uncertainty.
That uncertainty has had its effect. Staff have been unwilling to move to the area, problems have become more entrenched, there has been a falling-away of confidence and the fabric of local health care has become strained.
It has been difficult for decision makers to plan or strategise.
Lack of confidence has become a default setting; the progress of the region’s much-vaunted Future Fit process has became synonymous with delays and for all of the good work on the ground; the reputation of local health services has suffered.
One of the key reasons why health services have been hit is the lack of resources.
Put simply, the NHS can no longer afford to pay for all of the treatments people might like. It has moved away from being a service that can fulfil people’s wishes to one that fulfils basic needs.
Austerity has bitten hard and as we live to an older age and avail ourselves of ever more-expensive treatments and drugs, it has been impossible for the NHS to keep up.
It is no longer the service that Aneurin Bevan created and we are no longer the population that he wanted to care for. The country must have a wider and more detailed debate about the future of the NHS, rather than papering over the cracks and hoping for the best.
Such matters will wait for a little while, however, as the public continues to observe the fallout from Brexit.
There is some good news, however, with a large local investment in hospital services and staff.
Considerable resources will be pumped into local health services as politicians and health managers seek to plug the gap. The investment is long overdue and will help to remediate some of the problems caused by staff shortages, questions over the quality of care and the placement of local health services in special measures.
All the people of Shropshire want is the care they need at their time of need. They want to know that experts will treat them, rather than leaving them to suffer in pain. It is not much to ask.
The new investment moves us back to that position – and not before time.