Health minister outlines Lib Dem plan to ‘get to grips with NHS’ during visit to Barnstaple hospital

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb and North Devon MP Nick Harvey are pictured outside North Devo

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb and North Devon MP Nick Harvey are pictured outside North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble - Credit: Archant

Norman Lamb warns of ‘considerable and unprecedented’ efficiency gains in bid to plug £8bn funding gap.

Pictured in the Seamoor Unit, the new chemotherapy and day treatment centre at NDDH, are (from left)

Pictured in the Seamoor Unit, the new chemotherapy and day treatment centre at NDDH, are (from left) Norman Lamb, Charlotte Overney (lead cancer nurse and cancer manager), Ian Roome (fundraising manager), Emma Thoms (chemotherapy day treatment unit manager), Sir Nick Harvey, Jill Canning (divisional general manager for clinical support services), Rae Reynolds (operational capital manager) and Roger French (Trust chairman). Picture: Submitted - Credit: Archant

North Devon District Hospital must evolve to cope with a multi-billion-pound national funding gap and an ever growing population.

That is the message from health minister Norman Lamb, who underlined a need to ‘get creative’ to confront an £8billion-a-year funding gap by 2020.

Speaking during a visit to Barnstaple on Wednesday, the Liberal Democrat Minister for Care and Support said: “The NHS is doing pretty well but we need to recognise the scale of the challenge because of an aging population and a rise in conditions such as diabetes and alcoholism.

“We need to be far better at supporting people in their own homes. A lot of people who end up in this hospital don’t need to be here.


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“Great work has already been done to develop this concept but more needs to be done and that is why the Lib Dems are committed to funding it.”

Having looked around the hospital’s new chemotherapy unit, built with money raised by local people, Mr Lamb said the community could also do ‘fantastic’ things to complement the NHS offer.

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“The basics must be provided by the NHS but if local people want to enhance them by doing something additional, then what’s not to like about that?

“It’s something the local community should be very proud of.”

Mr Lamb said the Lib Dems were the only party to commit to meeting the funding gap identified by NHS England.

He said all parties should come together immediately after the election to establish a non-partisan commission to look at NHS budgets, including ‘considerable and unprecedented’ efficiency gains.

“We can’t allow the system to crash but it will unless we confront it here and now and create a new establishment,” he said.

“It is of fundamental importance that we get to grips with it this year. We have to think creatively about how we can find more money to support this.”

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