NHS is ‘under strain but not in crisis’ – watch Somerset MP James Heappey speak in parliament

PUBLISHED: 11:30 13 January 2017 | UPDATED: 11:55 13 January 2017

James Heappey speaking in parliament.

James Heappey speaking in parliament.

Archant

Somerset’s NHS services are facing ‘real challenges’ and are under ‘considerable strain’ according to Wells MP James Heappey – who argues claims the NHS is facing a crisis are ‘not true’.

Mr Heappey spoke in parliament during a debate on NHS and social care funding this week, where he called for 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.”

Weston General Hospital has faced 100 per cent occupancy at points this winter, while Taunton and Yeovil hospital have been at 81 and 82 per cent capacity respectively.

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 Somerset 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 challenge for Somerset.

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

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