Patients at the forefront of health changes

The official designation of the new Somerset NHS Foundation Trust was officially announced this week and I was delighted to mark the occasion at Musgrove Park Hospital with Chair Colin Drummond.  The Trust draws together health services from across Somerset - Musgrove Park and Yeovil Hospitals and community and mental health services.

I conveyed congratulations from the Secretary of State for Health. 

This amalgamation has been seven years in the making and puts patient health at the forefront whilst minimising bureaucracy. This is the first English county to bring all acute, mental health and community hospitals together with 20% of primary care practices joining into a single organisation.  This will enable new models of care to meet the needs of the county. Somerset is proving to be an exemplar for the NHS.

Government publishes its plan for water

In another first this week, and indeed another amalgamation, Government has published its Plan for Water which I was proud to launch together with the Secretary of State for DEFRA.  It pulls together all the complex strands across the water landscape: supply, demand, water quality, pollution, regulation, the impacts of climate change and population growth. 

It sets out actions already taken to ensure our clean and plentiful supply of water and further actions we are taking and will take to secure this precious resource, whilst also protecting the environment from which it comes. Wet wipes containing plastic will be banned by the end of the year, every source of pollution will be tackled, including persistent ‘forever’ chemicals, a further £1.1 billion of infrastructure to tackle sewage spills has just been announced (in addition to £56bn water companies are already committed to by 2050).

Funding for farmers has been more than doubled to tackle slurry pollution and we are consulting on the Environment Agency being able to issue unlimited fines for water companies damaging the environment.

Pollution from roads will be reduced by filtering and treating run off, and attention will be given to speeding up planning for new reservoirs including small on-farm reservoirs. 

Smart metres will be encouraged in homes and water efficient gadgets to help reduce demand.  This Plan goes into a level of detail never previously undertaken on water and will instigate the change that is needed. Read more here

Keeping up pressure on banking hub

Finally on a less positive note, the closure of Lloyds Bank in Wellington is a concern.  I shall keep up the pressure to ensure the promised ‘banking’ hub is provided which customers from any bank will be able to use.