Andrew Lansley will today tell patients across the West the NHS is safe in his hands and in excellent shape.
The Health Secretary today gives the first annual report to Parliament on the state of the NHS, after a turbulent year that saw doctors take industrial action for the first time since the 1970s.
But he will insist the NHS is doing better than ever in the South West – and signalled that funding changes will see the region get a better deal in the future.
Mr Lansley will say waiting times remained low and stable in the 2011-12 financial year, with the vast majority of patients treated within 18 weeks.
The percentage of overnight patients who received surgery in that time in March was 100 per cent at Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Bath’s Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases.
It was over 98 per cent at Great Western Hospitals, and just under 95 per cent in Dorset Healthcare and Northern Devon trusts, although it dipped to 88.2 per cent in North Bristol.
On hospital infections, C. difficile cases were down almost a fifth in the South West, to 738, while there were just 41 MRSA infections, although that was up four.
And there were only 34 breaches of the rules outlawing mixed sex accommodation in hospitals in the region in March 2012.
Mr Lansley told the Western Daily Press his first “annual report” would show an NHS in good health – despite the doom-mongers who claim a £20 billion cash squeeze has placed it in peril.
He said: “The performance has been excellent and credit for that goes to NHS staff.
“If you look at waiting times, for example, the average wait was eight weeks – which is lower than at the last General Election.
“That’s really important for patients. They increasingly know they will get treatment in line with their right under the NHS Constitution, which means treatment within 18 weeks.”
Mr Lansley will reveal the NHS made £5.8 billion of savings in 2011-12.
He added: “We are on track to make up to £20 billion of savings.
“Those are not cuts – they are savings available for reinvestment in the NHS.”
He said the funding formula will be changed for 2013-14, so it more accurately reflects need.
The biggest factor is age, which means there will be more for the South West, which has the UK’s oldest population and best life expectancy.
But the new formula will also take into account how rural an area is, which will also help much of the West, including more remote areas such as Exmoor, as well as factors such as deprivation and labour pressures.
While Mr Lansley is speaking, the long-awaited decision on the future of children’s heart surgery will be announced
There will be a reduction in the number of hospitals carrying out paediatric cardiac surgery, as a result of the Bristol Heart Babies scandal, when babies and very young children died needlessly, or suffered severe brain damage.
Since then Bristol Children’s Hospital has massively improved, and was included in all four different options being looked at, so it should be safe, although the committee making the decision can look at other possibilities.
However there will still be scope for campaigners for the axed units to appeal to Mr Lansley, which could delay a final decision for several months.