Island MP Bob Seely this week won an acknowledgement from Government about the extra costs associated with being an Island.
Bob, who is campaigning for an ‘Island Deal’ for the Island, welcomed the announcement from health secretary Matt Hancock.
MP Bob Seely, who has made the Island case for more money from Government a priority since being elected, has welcomed an acknowledgement from health secretary Matt Hancock that the Island bears additional costs in providing healthcare.
Bob has also been encouraged by an offer from Mr Hancock to meet Island officials to discuss local plans to further integrate adult social care, healthcare and other public sector functions to release money to support frontline services.
Mr Hancock’s announcements came in response to questions in Parliament from the Island’s MP on Monday (July 1).
Bob asked Mr Hancock: “Does he and his ministry accept that there are additional costs in providing healthcare on an Island in order to meet an equal level of care.
“Secondly, will he and his officials agree to meet with Island officials to discuss plans for a pilot scheme to help bring together, integrate, healthcare, adult social care and other local government services to ensure the maximum efficiency in delivery of services and to ensure that as much money as possible goes to frontline services.”
Mr Hancock replied: “Yes I am very happy to make sure that meeting happens. On island healthcare costs, he’s quite right that the IW is unique in terms of its health geography and he is quite right that there are places in this country probably including the Island, almost certainly, where healthcare costs are increased because of the geography.
“There is a programme of smaller hospitals which are necessarily smaller because of the local geography and they do need special attention.
“So I would be very happy to ensure that the meeting goes ahead and continue to talk to my honourable friend who makes the case for the IW better than any other.”
Bob said it was significant the double announcement came just days after Boris Johnson indicated his support for a fairer funding settlement – the so-called Island Deal - were his bid to become Prime Minister successful.
Bob said: “When I became the Member of Parliament for the Isle of Wight, I promised to put the Island on the map. Ensuring the Island gets the funding it deserves to maintain and develop first-class public service has always been a priority for me.”
“These developments give me confidence that the message is getting through. We’re making progress – it’s now up to me and others including the IW Council to keep up the pressure.
“We’re looking forward to putting our case to Mr Hancock and his team. Our vision is to create a pilot project in which health and social care and other public services are truly integrated meaning efficiency from shared back-office functions release more money to support the front line.
“It’s a case of the Island helping itself and that is the sort of innovative thinking that I believe will stand the best chance of attracting additional Government support.”
IW Council leader Dave Stewart said: “Getting the Government to accept we face additional pressures is an important step. Now we have this acknowledgement we will redouble efforts to get additional funding to help meet the pressures of being an Island.
“Bob has done a great job in pushing this vital issue. We fully support the battle for an Island Deal and welcome the forthcoming meeting with Mr Hancock’s team.”