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It is about all those things coming together, and about trying to understand what health inequalities actually mean. Some years ago, during a conversation when I was a councillor on Coventry City Council, it was described to me as being about what someone sees when they open the curtains in the morning or open the door and go out. Do they see a wonderful park, or do they see a brick wall with graffiti on it? That is also what health inequalities are about.
In Coventry, there are some excellent examples of local agencies working together to improve health outcomes, and this is continuing to develop through the Coventry and Warwickshire sustainability and transformation partnership. I hope that the Government provide the support and resources needed to embed best practice. However, given the underfunding of these health services, we need to deal with the major short-term risks to our local health economy.
One of the biggest challenges is dealing with the vast numbers of people who attend A&E at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire. To tackle that problem, I have worked closely with a number of health colleagues locally to develop plans to deliver a second walk-in centre situated in the hospital grounds. By providing a new walk-in centre, A&E staff could divert many patients with minor conditions to that new service, while ensuring that the specialist care and support that A&E provides is given to those who truly need it.
I hope that this Budget will provide funding for that proposal and I hope that the Government recognise the need for a more co-ordinated approach to ensure that we can continue to improve healthcare outcomes across all income levels and groups now and long into the future.