The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced details of the plan for emergency care to tackle waiting times at A&Es.

The two-year plan has been welcomed and it includes 5,000 more hospital beds, 800 new ambulances, same-day emergency care units to open in every hospital with a major A&E and improved ambulance response times. 

I know that waiting times have been concerning Stroud District residents and people can see how the pandemic has led to a major strain on our health services. The PM understands those concerns so he has made tackling the NHS backlog one of his personal priorities.  He has impressed people with his knowledge and attention to detail too. 

These investments will cut long waiting times by increasing the number of ambulances, staff and beds and patients are seen and discharged quickly.

One of the big problems is ambulances queueing up outside A&Es which is adding to pressure. The plan should help with that too.

The announcement has been broadly welcomed but there are warnings staff shortages need to be addressed with a long-term plan. Here in Stroud, we are seeing how staff shortages are affecting services with post-natal beds at Stroud Maternity Hospital closed because there are not enough midwives.

We are now in a situation where women in Stroud have fewer choices than during the pandemic lockdowns and many families are reporting that they are increasingly stressed. I continue to raise this issue with the NHS trust as we have to have a plan to ensure that women are not required to leave hospital straight after giving birth.  The trust says the beds will reopen but the decisions are being pushed back. 

Recruiting and retaining staff is undoubtedly a challenge for all NHS trusts and indeed across the majority of sectors, public and private.  Gloucestershire NHS is working really hard to address recruitment but as you will have seen with the national focus on the ‘economically inactive’ including the thousands of people who have chosen to retire early after the pandemic, this is not an easy task.

I fully believe we can get there though and work I have done through the Department for Work and Pensions Select Committee indicates to me that improvements can be made swiftly.