FIRSTLY, I wish a happy and healthy New Year to all readers.
These are challenging times around the world, but I enter 2023 filled with resolve and optimism that better times are on the horizon.
My first act of the working year was to hold an advice surgery in Salisbury, then I headed to London for meetings.
Urgent casework never stops, whatever the season but, from my inbox over Christmas, it is apparent that the exceptional winter pressures on the NHS are concerning a great many people.
There is no doubt that the double whammy of winter infections on top of the continuing backlog of routine procedures due to Covid has created a perfect storm.
The Government is providing historic funding for our NHS. Despite difficult financial circumstances, NHS investment has increased substantially in real terms every year since 2010.
And the Chancellor recently made a number of additional spending commitments, making available £8 billion of extra funding for the NHS and adult social care in England.
But, in making sure that taxpayers’ money does the most possible good on the front line, there is much to learn from the examples of those health trusts that have come up with innovative ways of working and have done brilliantly at clearing their pandemic backlogs.
Where some NHS hospitals are faring significantly better than most through the onslaught of winter bugs, their success is clearly not down to funding alone.
Examples of best practice need to be shared and adopted with an open mind as a matter of urgency in order to make possible rapid action to improve emergency, elective treatment and primary care performance.
The Government will also make available up to £4.7 billion in 2024-25 to put the adult social care system in England on a stronger financial footing and improve care for many of the most vulnerable in our society.
This includes £1 billion to directly support discharges from hospital into the community, to support the NHS.
It is clear that we need the NHS more than ever, and I believe the Government is committed to doing whatever it takes to invest in our health and public services.