A number of constituents have been in touch with me about various concerns relating to the NHS.

It is the case that the NHS nationally has been under sustained pressure with the number of people aged over 80 rising by 340,000, and life expectancy rising by 12 months in the last six years alone. As a result, the NHS is facing an unprecedented demand. However, I know that the Government is determined to protect the service through an extremely challenging period and ensure its future sustainability.

This winter, the NHS has made more extensive preparations than ever before and there are now 11,400 more doctors and 11,200 more hospital nurses in the NHS since 2010. To support the NHS, investment of £350 million was included in local Clinical Commissioning Group budgets in 2016/17 for resilience planning, and £50 million was made available for national initiatives. The NHS also assured the winter plans of every trust, launched the largest ever flu vaccination programme and bolstered support outside A&Es, with 12,000 additional GP sessions offered over the Christmas period.

As a consequence of this preparation and, most importantly, the hard work of frontline staff, the system overall is coping and even performing slightly better than last year. Earlier in December, it treated a record number of patients within four hours and we are seeing 2,500 more patients within the four hour standard every single day compared with 2010.Locally, I am very conscious that the NHS have faced particular challenges. This is in part due to historic under-funding

This has led to the drawing up of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan under the Mid and South Essex Success regime on which there is currently a consultation. You will find details of this here:www.successregimeessex.co.uk  Last week, I had a meeting with the NHS Director of Commissioning for the East of England and representatives of the CCG to discuss the problems caused by the shortage of GPs which has led some local practices to close their lists to new patients.

I am encouraged that action is being taken through the provision of resilience funding to practices and potential recruitment of GPs from other European countries. Good progress is also being made on a new Health Hub in Maldon to replace St Peter’s Hospital and a health centre in Heybridge.