February 2019 Breakfast Briefing
The £20 billion cash injection promised to the NHS, which was recently outlined under the Government’s 10 year NHS plan, is, according to Simon Lloyd, Chairman of the Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, is insufficient to cover essential needs.
Mr Lloyd, speaking at a recent Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership (MKBLP) breakfast, addressed the fact that further investment needs to be put into community care as many patients, without adequate care provision once discharged, are left stranded in the hospital which, as Mr Lloyd pointed out, “is not good for their health.”
Dr Philip Smith MBE, Chair of MKBLP welcomed the speaker at a time of significant change at the hospital. Members were keen to know about recent developments.
Summarising the NHS plan, he outlined the Government’s desire to keep people out of hospital, with greater improvements to outpatient appointments and mental health care. He also honed in on the plan’s objective to encourage people to help themselves, referencing obesity, smoking and alcohol as major factors. Drawing comparisons to Milton Keynes, Mr Lloyd revealed that while the city is a positive area in terms of economic success, the health of the population is not great in comparison to other cities, particularly in certain communities.
Encouragingly, Mr Lloyd announced that the Government’s budget funding model will now be based on population, as opposed to activity-based funding. A significant step forward for Milton Keynes, particularly as the hospital’s current funding figures are based on population statistics which are five years old: “As we know these figures have grown significantly, so this is a major positive for us.”
While aligning the Government’s ‘hugely ambitious’ 10-year plan to the specific development of Milton Keynes University Hospital, Mr Lloyd stressed the importance of the hospital spreading the message. During his address to a room full of Milton Keynes’ business leaders he acknowledged that, as the city’s biggest employer, plans for the hospital need to be clearly communicated as, “we try to become more visible to the wider community.”
Mr Lloyd summarised the current activity of the hospital. From the A&E department, which is one of the best performing in the country, and the fact that the number of people waiting more than 52 weeks for an operation has been cut in half within 12 months, “although we need to get this to zero,” - to the 2,763 babies born last year alone.
The new cancer centre, which has received huge financial support, will offer a dedicated facility to all oncology patients, and will open at the end of this year.
Significantly, the two key strategic areas for Milton Keynes University Hospital to move forward is education and research. “There are 100,000 vacancies within the UK’s NHS, and we are struggling to recruit. We need to create greater pipeline pathways, particularly within nursing and mental health, and not only recruit, but retain our staff.”
The hospital is already making strides in this area. Students on the inaugural course at the Buckingham Milton Keynes Medical School, run by the University of Buckingham and Milton Keynes NHS Foundation Trust, are set to graduate in June following four and a half years. Last year the University and the hospital cemented their partnership further with the opening of the Academic Centre. The pioneering building features a simulated operating theatre and video link showing live procedures, working replicas of clinical wards and a 200-seat lecture with capacity to stream lectures throughout the building. “Whilst an outstanding resource for medical education we are trying to install, from an early stage, patient empathy.” Mr Lloyd commented.
Mr Lloyd concluded that, in comparison to the Luton & Dunstable Hospital which is looking to expand but has very little land surrounding the site, the Milton Keynes University Hospital is in the fortunate position of having significant land which can be developed upon as they continue to grow. “At the minute, we are expanding by half a ward a year, but, as the population of Milton Keynes is projected to grow by 50,000 over the forthcoming decade, we want to provide as much as we can for local people, and we are good at getting things done with little capital investment.”