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Happy birthday NHS, and a look to its future

On 5 July, the NHS celebrated its 75th birthday. This milestone represents three-quarters of a century of providing cradle to grave care to communities across west Suffolk and beyond. The NHS has certainly come a very long way in this time, and for many, has been their only healthcare provider. Over this time there have been great leaps forward in technology and medicine because of the NHS, which has helped us live longer, healthier and happier lives.

Therefore, I think it timely to thank all those who work in our NHS services now and all those who have contributed in the past. Without your significant efforts and dedication, the NHS would not be capable of what it is today or having had the ability to deal with countless health emergencies over these decades.

Beyond those we employ, I would like to thank our team of wonderful volunteers who are an integral part our organisation. I recently had the pleasure of experiencing my first annual volunteers’ awards tea party which was attended by more than 100 of our volunteers. Here, I was able to present them with awards and serve them refreshments as a small gesture of my gratitude for everything they do. Of the 25 volunteers who received long-service awards this year, three of them were recognised for 25 years’ service and another for an incredible 35 years of service. In total, all these long-service awards amounted to more than 400 years of selfless service to your local NHS Trust.

Looking to the future of the NHS, we will have to continue embracing technology so that we can deliver our services more effectively. Here at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, we are noted as a digital exemplar, and as such, are in a good position to utilise our expertise to build on our progress to help deliver the safest and highest quality care possible.

I would recommend that our local communities take the opportunity to attend our ‘medicine for members’ event on heart health at Sudbury Football Club on 19 July from 5.30 to 6.30pm. This informative and free event will help you learn more about how to better care for your heart. You can find out more information on our Trust website.

Locally, we have recently asked our communities to help us by returning any unused NHS community services equipment so others in need have access to it. Items such as crutches, wheeled walking frames and pressure care items such as cushions, mattresses and slings are important pieces of equipment which aid patients’ recovery. They also cost money. It is important that once you complete your recovery these are returned to us, so others have access to them. These are not single-use items and as such, also contribute to our environmental impact. You can drop these off at the West Suffolk Disability Resource Centre (IP32 7BX), West Suffolk Hospital (IP33 2QZ), Ipswich Hospital (IP4 5PD) and Medequip (IP3 9RR). You can also call Medequip to arrange for these items to be collected via 01473 351805.

While these last few years have been difficult and we continue to go through turbulent times, I am certain that the best years of the NHS are ahead of us. Locally, we can look forward to the completion of our new hospital on Hardwick Manor in Bury St Edmunds by the end of this decade. I am also excited by the opportunities we have to continue improving the quality of the services we provide, and ensure our communities benefit from the highest quality healthcare possible.

Finally, I want to reiterate that while our emergency teams will always be there for you when you need them, the communities around west Suffolk can help their local NHS services by helping themselves. As we head into the warm Summer months, it’s very important that our services are used wisely, such as only attending our emergency department in the case of a serious injury or illness, as well as utilising NHS 111, your GP or your local pharmacist. All of these things go a long way in helping reduce the pressure on our services and help us deliver the best care we possibly can. 

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