Earlier this week I met with the head of our local NHS Trust to discuss current levels of performance and how we need to continue to invest in Burnley Hospital to ensure it remains at the heart of our local healthcare.
The Hospital already has outstanding provision, particularly the new eye hospital and baby unit. And as part of my visit, I was able to visit the neonatal ward and saw first-hand the incredible work the doctors and nurses there do. I’ll be doing everything I can in Westminster to ensure we don’t just keep that provision but we continue to invest in it too.
On performance there were some very good statistics, and others needing improvement. Local waiting lists, whilst still too long in parts, remain better than other parts of the county; and on measures like emergency waits the Trust is making progress to ensure patients are seen quickly, adopting new technology to help them do it.
But this goes to a more fundamental change needed in the NHS, and that is the use of technology and data. Covid-19 highlighted how important it was for the NHS to have the data it needed. When we went into the pandemic there was no national dashboard showing how many emergency beds there were, and how many were in use. Whilst this tool was built rapidly, it only touched the surface on what was possible, and what is needed.
We saw other innovations too. At-home monitoring and ‘virtual wards’ were established to allow NHS doctors and nurses to monitor patients who weren’t in need of hospital admittance at that time. And telemedicine took off with video consultations.
Not all of these are right for everyone all the time but giving the NHS a greater array of tools to use can only be a good thing.
With this in mind the Government has now launched a digital strategy for in the ‘Plan for Digital Health and Social Care’. This sets out four goals for 2025 in relation to every patient.
- Prevent health and social care needs from escalating.
- Personalise care and reduce health disparity.
- Improve patient impact and experience.
- Transform performance.
More than £2 billion is being provided to meet these goals and I will be pushing our local NHS to ensure they make a real difference to the lives and experiences of residents here.
The NHS is one of our great national institutions, now is the time to make it the innovative and transformative provider that will see its success continue.