We need to looks at other methods of funding to ensure the NHS future - Maggie Throup MP
Health expert and Select Committee member was interviewed with The House editor Daniel Bond about health policy issues at Conservative Party Conference this week.
Alison Rogan, external affairs director, Tunstall Healthcare Group asked why technology in care homes had disappeared from the National Information Board (NIB) framework given the positive impact it had, including falls in the numbers of emergency visits and GP call outs. In response Maggie Throup (Con, Erewash) said it was important to remember a nursing home was a person’s home and she said models like this should be used to inform the Government.
In light of recent A & E performance figures, Gordon Miles, chief executive, Royal College Emergency Medicine asked when the Government should take action and to properly fund services. Throup thought the targets needed reviewing, adding health care had begun to change an emphasis on different ways of working while sharing good performances was required.
Responding to a follow up question on winter planning, Throup said it was important to have advanced planning not just in A&E but also across the whole of the NHS.
Asked by Heidi Wright, practice and policy lead, Royal Pharmaceutical Society on community pharmacies Throup thought it was important to have care as close to the patient as possible. She added there was opportunity for pharmacists to help in GP surgeries and care homes. Simple tests conducted to determine whether antibiotics were needed in primary care could be conducted by pharmacies, she explained.
Throup was asked if the Health Select Committee would be looking at funding issues related to the long term sustainability of the NHS by Cheryl Cox, public affairs manager at Benenden. Throup said it was important to look at other methods of funding, including mutuals, she welcomed the fixed-term parliament in providing a structure for health care funding.
Turning to childhood obesity, Throup said when the committee had first examined the case she was against Government action on taxes however once she had seen the scale of the problem her mind was changed. She said the Health Select Committee had asked the Government to be brave and bold on the childhood obesity strategy, however they had been “wimpish”. She felt the childhood obesity strategy had fallen down as a result of input from other departments, more cross departmental work would be beneficial and the cabinet office should look at the health aspect of any policy across Government. Throup recommended lobbying DCMS to address advertising issues.
On biomedical research funding, specifically on macular disease, asked by Cathy Yelf, chief executive, Macular Society, Throup was concerned about the impact of leaving the EU. She said collaborative work post Brexit was important in drawing the attention of the Government to the need for research funding on life changing conditions.
Question and Answer
Throup was asked about accessibility of health services for patients with learning disabilities. Throup welcomed the question and said the Health Select Committee had looked at the potential of having a mental health nurse available in the GP setting.
Asked about support for unpaid carers, by Laura Bennett, policy and public affairs manager, Carers Trust, Throup said their vital work needed support in relation to both the health of the carer and the person they are caring for. She spoke on the Carers Charter and said more recognition and understanding across the rest of the community was important.
Throup was interested to find out more on student funding, training places and workforce supply when asked by Rachel Newton, head of policy, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.
A member of the audience asked Throup about relieving pressure on the NHS through a change in culture which would promote prevention and increase personal responsibility. Throup said lessons could be learned from the ban on smoking and changes to advertising to get the message out to people. Some patients, she continued, weren’t aware of the impact of health conditions such as obesity increasing the risk of cancer. She added that £48bn was spent on alcohol and obesity, which was money which if saved could be reinvested in the NHS.
On promoting better health, she said having celebrities such as Jamie Oliver behind the childhood obesity strategy had a huge impact and the childhood obesity strategy now represented a missed opportunity. The Chair, Dan Bond, asked if that was the end of it as far as the Committee was concerned, Throup said cross-departmental messaging on advertising fatty food with DCMS was an area where more needed to be done.
Throup fielded a number of questions on community pharmacies, saying there was big role for them in primary care and particularly in addressing health inequality and relieving pressure on GPs.
Following a question on supporting disabled people with health and wellbeing, including avoiding obesity, Throup said it had not been looked at as part of the Health Select Committee, however helping people who wanted to address their weight but did not have access to facilities was an area she wanted to explore.
Going forward Throup said the Health Select Committee had recently decided to return to the obesity strategy and re-examine what more could be done.