Basildon Draft Local Plan 2016

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Hospitals and health services in the Basildon Council Draft Local Plan

The first residents for the new town of Basildon moved in in 1959, but it was not until 1973 that Basildon Hospital opened. The Basildon and Thurrock Hospital Trust now comprises the Hospitals in Basildon and Orsett, the St Andrew's Centre im Billericay and the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre. Between 2005 and 2014 the number of inpatients treated rose from 55,000 to 77,500, with numbers of outpatients growing even more rapidly. Funding has increased but pressure on services has mounted and staff shortages are a problem.

Through a freedom of information request it has been revealed that the number of black alert days rose from 23 in 2014 to 44 in 2015. A black alert is activated when there are no more beds free in the hospital. Non-emergency operations have to be cancelled and special measures are taken to manage staffing levels. The number of days when the alert level was red or higher also rose from 183 in 2014 to 239 in 2015. This is an indication that funding is not keeping up with the increase in demand at the Hospitals.

Upgrades to hospitals are not allowed to be funded from development because they are funded by ring-fenced grants from central government. The Local Plan must stipulate that new housing cannot be allowed without a commitment from government to support these provisions. More residents will mean more need for hospital staff. Where will they come from? The government has stopped bursaries for nurses from the 2017 intake onwards and will require them to pay tuition fees supported by student loans. This will mean nurses graduating with debts of around 60,000. It is unlikely that many students will apply to do nursing degrees when such a large debt has to be paid back from their 23,000 pay, The only alternative will be to take more nurses from abroad, increasing immigration. This will only serve to push the housing crisis up further.

Local health services such as doctirs surgeries are funded differently and can be supported with the Community Infrastructure Levy. However such funding also has to be spread across schools and social housing. Residents throughout the area will be aware of increasing waiting times for doctor appointments that can already take two to three weeks to arrange. Again it is shortages of doctors and nurses that is the biggest limiting factor.

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