From the health economy to the high street economy
Posted by Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, at 10:34, Mon 28 May 2012:
Last week was National Dementia Awareness Week. I joined campaigners from the local branch of the Alzheimer’s Society to draw attention to the condition, and the need for support for families.
We're lucky in Trafford to have an excellent group of campaigners, some who suffer dementia themselves, some who are their family members, friends or carers. The group's very active, organising a choir, outings, and activities, as well as campaigning for better understanding of dementia and the services needed to help people live with it. You can find out more about their work at alzheimers.org.uk
The group are keen to get across the message that it's possible to live well with dementia with the right support. Although it's caused by diseases of the brain and is not a natural part of aging, it is true that dementia is becoming more common among over-65's, and as more of us live longer, we can expect this to continue. This means social services and the NHS need to plan very carefully to have the right support in place, for those with dementia and their families.
That's why I'm very concerned at the impact of the cuts to social care. Here in Trafford, the Alzheimer’s Society has already had to cut staff numbers because of pressure on funding. I asked the campaigners I met at the weekend to help me monitor the impact of the cuts on local services, and I will be publicising more information soon about a commission I'm setting up with Labour colleagues here in Trafford to do this - covering a whole range of services and support for people with different mental and physical conditions.
If you've got an interest in or experience of living with disability or ill health locally, and would like to be part of this commission, please just let me know. I'll make sure to send you more details as our plans progress.
The changes in the NHS here in Trafford will also have a huge impact on those with dementia, and on older people generally. I met NHS managers last week, and this was one of the things we discussed.
I was struck by the proportion of older people in the figures for emergency admissions at Trafford General. It's essential to protect emergency and acute services at Trafford that can look after people properly.
Just as important, we need the right community services to ensure people can get back home as quickly as possible - or even better, to prevent them needing to come to hospital in the first place. For many conditions, including dementia, but also respiratory illnesses, diabetes, and so on, GPs and community health providers have a huge role in ensuring the provision of preventative services that keep people healthy and out of hospital. Trafford's been working towards a model of integrated care for some years now, which I strongly support. But with all the change and pressures in the NHS (the move to GP commissioning, uncertainty about community services which are out to tender now, and the anxiety about future services at Trafford General) I don't understand how it's going to work.
How can services be withdrawn from our local hospitals when there are no guarantees about community provision, and no guarantees about waiting times, travel times or quality of care if people have to go to other hospitals? What's going to happen to those who go to Trafford General currently, and how many people are going to be affected? What are the plans for Stretford Memorial Hospital and how do they fit with community and GP services? Managers need to listen to our concerns, and I'm demanding that all their information and data have to be shared with the public. It's not good enough for people to be relying on leaks and rumours - if there's to be proper public consultation, we need the facts.
Some other news has worried me this week. Following an appeal, approval's been given for another new supermarket, at Neary Way in Trafford Park.
I'm very concerned at the impact on our local town centres, in this case especially on Urmston. Meanwhile, despite putting in a strong application, Stretford's bid to become one of the so-called "Portas pilot" town centres is not among those announced to have been successful. A small change in planning permission has been announced for the shopping centre in Partington, and the council's put in a bid for some funding to get work started, but it's nothing like enough on its own to meet the cost of rebuilding the shopping centre. I'm pressing the council and Peel Holdings about their plans, and for guarantees that there will be progress.
12 towns have been awarded Portas money, and in Greater Manchester, Stockport has been successful. I hope we can learn more about their plans and what they've been able to do. Interestingly, the market was an important element of their bid, so there may be lessons we could apply locally.
There is to be a further round of Portas funding, and I hope Trafford can apply again, but the council and its partners need to look at what's being done elsewhere and how it can be more creative and imaginative.
To help with that, I'm hosting an event for local businesses over the summer, which is kindly being sponsored by Barclays. If you're a local business man or woman and would like to attend to share your ideas or to raise concerns about pressures on your business, please let me know so I can make sure you receive a formal invitation. (Barclays have promised to take questions on accessing credit. I know this is one of the biggest problems faced by small business, so do come along to put them on the spot about that as well!).