January 15, 2017
NHS is 'strained but not in crisis' says Burnham's MP James Heappey

Somerset’s NHS services are facing "real challenges" and are under "considerable strain" according to Burnham-On-Sea's MP James Heappey, who says claims that the NHS is facing a crisis are "not true".

The MP made the comments this week during a parliamentary debate on NHS and social care funding, where he called on the Government to re-examine funding for rural areas.

He said: "There is no doubt our primary healthcare system is under considerable strain, as is our adult social care system."

"Our hospitals, too, face record demand. However, to call this a crisis is a disservice to those in the clinical commissioning group and our local hospital trust who have worked so hard to prepare for the incredible challenges they face this winter."

"To claim all is perfect right now is not true, but to claim there is a crisis is not true either."

He said Weston General Hospital has experienced 100 per cent occupancy at times during the last few weeks, while Taunton and Yeovil hospitals have been at 81 and 82 per cent capacity respectively.

The Burnham MP added that a lack of available social care has led to increased bed blocking, but the Government has given local authorities the flexibility to raise council tax to fund social care – but even significant rises will not provide enough additional cash to foot the ever-increasing bill.

Mr Heappey said the County Council and NHS organisations remain "very concerned" and argued the county’s ageing population and rural standing puts even more strain on its services. Mr Heappey also said difficulty recruiting new GPs is a further challenge.

He called on the Government to re-examine its funding to make sure that the financial gap between urban and rural areas does not widen.


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