To protect our local NHS and improve care for those with mental illness
Speaking at the planning workshop for Brighter Berkshire, the initiative to make 2017 the Year of Mental Health across the county.
I believe that in offering seven-day access to GPs, investing in record numbers of doctors and nurses and treatments, and incentivising care at local levels, namely in homes and communities, we are building an NHS fit for the 21st century. The NHS today helps more people to receive higher quality care than ever before, backed by an additional £10 billion per annum of Government funding by the end of this Parliament.
An important part of this process is our local NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan. Covering Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and West Berkshire, one of 44 groupings across the country, this is looking at new and better ways to meet the health and care needs of local people. This does not mean doing less or reducing the quality of care, but responding to challenges such as the rapid growth in population, new treatments and technologies, the emphasis on prevention and the need to look after our frail elderly, by providing services differently - in the right place, at the right time and at the right cost. This consultation is ongoing and seeking views from everyone from patients and carers through to hospitals and local authorities.
Following the recommendations of the independent Mental Health Task Force last February, the Government has committed to deliver true equality between mental and physical health, allocating an extra £1 billion a year to mental health care. Highlighting this issue locally, I am delighted to be involved with Brighter Berkshire, an exciting new initiative to make 2017 the Year of Mental Health across the county. The planning workshop in December, hosted by Alison Foster, Acting Chair of Healthwatch West Berkshire, drew together at very short notice around 60 people, including health professionals and the voluntary sector, all passionately interested in seeing improvements in the way we deal with mental health issues. You can follow the conversation at www.brighterberkshire.com or @BrightBerks2017.