I recently met with Karen James, Chief Executive of Tameside & Glossop NHS Foundation Trust, to catch up on the latest steps of the hospital’s improvement journey. Particular good news was the success of moving the walk-in centre next to the hospital and opening it from 9am to 9pm, to provide more joined up care and reduce unnecessary A&E visits, alongside plans to expand A&E.
I am pleased that the government’s Health Secretary this week announced a £163 million investment in these essential projects, although sadly this is a bit of a Conservative con, as his own junior health minister admitted that it is “not untrue” that this is in fact money already in the NHS system. In the words of newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murphy, “it is in fact money that was given to hospitals that they saved by making cuts, but weren’t allowed to spend, so now they’ve been told they can spend it, so it’s not new money, it’s just that they’ve been told they can spend the money they already had”. In actual fact, a shocking 48% of NHS Trusts are in deficit, with the NHS in England a mind boggling £960 million. The Conservatives have cause the scale of this deficit, and no amount of recycled funding announcements can pull the wool over our eyes on this.
That aside, improvements to Tameside Hospital over recent years under Karen’s leadership have been one of our greatest success stories locally. When I first became the MP for Stalybridge & Hyde, Tameside Hospital’s failures were serious and ongoing, and the former leadership failed to get a grip of it and restore public confidence. Alongside neighbouring MPs, I had to call for the former Chief Executive to stand down – a difficult call, but one which has proved essential to residents accessing the quality of care they deserve. I pay tribute to each and every member of hospital staff who has worked so hard under the new leadership to make it provision to be proud of, with a recent rating of Good with some services Outstanding. This is exactly what the people of Tameside expect and deserve. I love our NHS and will keep up the regular meetings and correspondence to support it.