This week is the first full week of recess, as Parliament closes for the Summer. Apart from what goes on in the House of Commons, the work of Government departments continues, and many Members of Parliament use this period to spend more time in our constituencies.
Whilst my office in Worksop’s town centre is open to constituents every weekday, I also hold roving surgeries around Bassetlaw, so everybody has the opportunity to see me in their locality. With the easing of restrictions, thankfully we are now able to return to something resembling normal and it’s great to see people out and about.
Locally, there are a number of issues people will be interested in right now. One of which is the announcement that that Bassetlaw will become part of the Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System (having previously been a member of the South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw ICS). For those not familiar with them, Integrated care systems (ICSs) are partnerships between the organisations that meet health and care needs across an area. They coordinate services and are responsible for planning in a way that improves population health.
One of the big issues we have had in Bassetlaw is that our services are not as closely linked with the rest of the county as they could be, and this leads to us duplicating a number of services, for example social care and children’s services. This is not just ineffective, but also isn’t the best way of spending your money.
Many people asked me how this will affect us locally in terms of the health services we use in Bassetlaw. I raised these matters with the Secretary of State and Health Ministers and they wrote back confirming that: People can still use hospital services in South Yorkshire and we will continue to be part of Doncaster & Bassetlaw NHS Foundation Trust; Our funding will be calculated in exactly the same way; There are no changes at all to infrastructure projects, such as our planned A&E upgrade and plans for evening and weekend children’s provision.
In effect, the change to our ICS now means that we will have the best of both worlds, having a system that links up better with the rest of Nottinghamshire and the County Council, as well as being able to continue with our strong links to services in South Yorkshire, many of which are closer than those in the rest of the county. The important thing is that we have excellent health services available to us locally – not where the office is located that allocates the budgets.
For many years we have faced the question of where exactly Bassetlaw belongs because of its geography. For me, this geography should not be seen as a challenge, but instead as an opportunity.