Wednesday’s listening event hosted by Wycombe District Council enabled local people to describe their experiences of the Minor Injuries and Illness Unit (MIIU) at Wycombe Hospital and the Accident and Emergency department at Stoke Mandeville.

Once again, we heard of considerable work to do. There was some excellent feedback about the performance of clinical staff. With some notable exceptions, doctors, nurses and radiographers were complimented on the treatment they delivered.

However, too often departmental, staff and equipment co-ordination issues left people frustrated and angry. We heard instances where people and resources were not in the right place at the right time, ready to provide care. There were communication problems and too much time was wasted.

I am looking forward to the Council’s formal report. In the meantime, my initial reaction is that our senior NHS team will continue to face hard questions about the delivery of urgent care.

Our NHS faces four key challenges: an ageing population, a steady increase in the cost of medicines, a surge in those suffering from long-term conditions and financial pressure. We are protecting health spending but it can no longer increase as fast as it did during the years of credit boom.

We all need to take better care of ourselves but there will always be times where something goes wrong and we need immediate help short of calling an ambulance. NHS professionals working towards person-centred, co-ordinated care, especially away from hospitals, face tough challenges to deliver lean and effective processes with which people can be happy.

Wycombe people consistently tell me they want emergency care at our hospital. Historically, hospitals have been places of safety and reassurance and that seems unlikely to change in the minds of the public. I would be very glad if local Clinical Commissioning Groups tasked our NHS Trust to deliver focussed, integrated care centred on our hospital, complemented by comprehensive packages of care at home.

That is why I took the bold step of commissioning a report showing how our hospital could be made the centrepiece of our local health system through incremental changes. Instead of playing down the capabilities of our hospital, we could have a new kind of casualty unit with integrated hospital-based primary care tailored for those with complex chronic needs. The Report ‘A Better Future For Wycombe Hospital’ may be downloaded here: Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group makes available to the public their policies and strategies here: A great deal of work is being done on putting patients first. Huge successes could be achieved if everyone in the NHS puts themselves in the place of the patient and their relatives in every kind of circumstance. And for goodness sake, let’s get the basics of urgent care right every time.