Internal Milton Keynes Hospital communications, including from the CEO highlight the massive pressure the hospital is under. But they also highlight the amazing work of the staff who are keeping the hospital running.
One frustrated doctor wrote: “Been told Milton Keynes hospital in meltdown. So bad, a senior A&E director asked to close the hospital. And there were no ambulances serving MK for a time on Saturday night due to queues at hospital. And staff genuinely fear for patient safety especially in the corridor.”
Cllr Pete Marland, who chairs the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board said, “The hospital is clearly under massive pressure. Despite the pressure, which may grow over the difficult winter months ahead, I believe the fantastic work of the hospital staff will keep patients safe. But we cannot go on like this. The hospital and wider social care services need more resources to cope with a growing and ageing population.”
Labour led Milton Keynes Council works closely with the hospital. It has protected its Social Care Services which helps reduce demand on the hospital. But more funding for care services, from Central Government, is needed if we going to be able to carry on protecting them and meet growing demand.
Only last night (2 January) the Council agreed a further £5 million of a £10.1 million package for the new Brooklands Health Centre. This is in addition to the £12.1 million the Council is investing in the new Whitehouse Health Centre.
Cllr Marland added, “MK Council is putting £20 million into new Health centres and protecting Adult Social Care funding. The hospital and the wider NHS and Adult Social Care services are clearly underfunded by Central Government. I have written to Government Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP (see letter below) pleading with him to establish an independent review of health and social care funding in Milton Keynes given the exceptional and unique position in Milton Keynes. I am also asking the two local MPs Iain Stewart and Mark Lancaster to back my request for a review of funding. “
Cllr Marland continued, “Funding for Milton Keynes NHS and social care services has always failed to keep pace with population growth and with the number of older people set to grow dramatically, to over 49,000 by 2026 and with a 66.9% increase in the over 80s we need a fair funding settlement for Milton Keynes.”
He concluded, “I would like to say a big thank you to all hospital staff. But the only long term solution is Fair Funding for the MK Hospital. That is why the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP should establish an independent review of funding for Milton Keynes and why the local MPs should support our call for a review.”
Dear Mr Hunt,
Independent Review of Health and Social Care Funding in Milton Keynes
I am writing to you to request that you establish an independent review into the level of funding received for health and social care services in Milton Keynes.
On Tuesday 2nd January 2018 Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) along with most other acute hospitals in England was heavily overstretched. Staff and management have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that patients continue to receive safe care when they need it.
At the same time MK Council’s social care team are working incredibly hard at a time when we are making a further £14m in cuts to local services having already made £130m in savings since 2010. The financial position of MK Council like all local authorities providing social care is bleak, as has been consistently highlighted by the cross party Local Government Association.
While access to pooled funding such as the Better Care Fund is helpful, it is simply not sufficient to sustain vital social care services when we need to make a further £40m in cuts in the next four years. Cuts to council services impact on the day to day operational budget of the NHS, but like all local authorities we will be faced with no other option in future budget rounds but to reduce services unless alternative funding can be found.
Our health and social care system are therefore facing a funding crisis.
As Chair of the Milton Keynes Health and Wellbeing Board steps are being taken to further integrate and align the spending across our health and wellbeing sectors. Milton Keynes Council has a strong relationship with our Clinical Commissioning Group, acute trust (MKUH), community provider (Central and North West London Trust) and GP Confederation. Reaching a sustainable model where money is spent on prevention as a priority and a focus on system failures such as Delayed Transfers of Care are moving forward and we are a pathfinder in the integration of services through our Sustainability and Transformation Partnership.
While I am cognisant that many health and social care systems are in similar positions, Milton Keynes is unique for a British city. The year 2017 was the 50th Anniversary of Milton Keynes as a New Town. In that time our population has risen to nearly 300,000 people and we are once again Britain’ fastest growing city, as we have been for a decade. The recent National Infrastructure Commission report into the Oxford-MK-Cambridge Corridor made reference to Milton Keynes growing to a population of at least 500,000 by 2050.
Funding for services such as health and social care lags significantly behind growth, if at all. While the population of Milton Keynes have traditionally been willing and welcoming of growth, the crisis faced in funding vital services will become a significant impediment to MK Council wishing to enable any additional housing growth, a vital component of Government policy for the region.
While other local authorities are facing an aging population in need of care, Milton Keynes faces an even more severe challenge. As a New Town, until recently we have also had a relatively young and predominately working age population. Now many of the pioneers who came to Milton Keynes in the 1970s and 1980s are retiring at the same time.
The number of people over 65 will rise by 65% by 2026, and the number of people with dementia will rise by 100% in the same timeframe. Milton Keynes Council does not have the historic council tax base funding to support those service needs. This discrepancy was adjusted for by the Revenue Support Grant but as that funding is phased out, there is currently no proposed means to replace the base budget differential.
Our NHS services also face a funding issue as the increasing and aging population places an increased level of pressure on existing services with little financial compensation to adjust. Admissions to hospital fro over 65s increased by 25% in the period between 2012 and 2016 alone to over 28,000, and the number of complex cases is increasing in line with our wider demographic challenges.
Given the immediate challenges facing our health and care system in Milton Keynes, which is being pushed to the limit and beyond today, failure to act swiftly on the financial and demographic pressures facing Milton Keynes will likely result in a major system wide failure. I am therefore asking if you will establish an independent review into the level of funding Milton Keynes receives for health and social care services in light of our unique population growth and demographics with the aim of ensuring the city has the proper resources that are required to enable sustainable health and wellbeing services, and if you will meet with me to discuss these issues.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Cllr Peter Marland
Leader, Milton Keynes Council