Our local health service faces big challenges. In part this is because of welcome changes in society: people live longer and medical science keeps developing new treatments.
Aylesbury Vale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which manages the NHS budget for our area reckons that between now and 2026 the number of residents aged over 65 will double.
You might think that means that the over-riding priority for the CCG’s planning and spending should be services for older people.
And yes, that is clearly going to be important, but it isn’t the only challenge.
The CCG’s analysis shows a big difference between the health of inner Aylesbury and the rest of the Vale (including outer Aylesbury).
It’s disturbing to see figures showing that key health outcomes in inner Aylesbury are worse than elsewhere.
More than 8% of babies in the town have a low birth-weight, a higher proportion than the average for England.
Compared with the rest of the CCG area, inner Aylesbury has worse rates of infant mortality and of long-term conditions like diabetes, asthma and mental illness.
Town residents are also more likely to visit A & E.
For outer Aylesbury (including places like Bedgrove), Wendover and the other villages the key health issues are the needs of older people, including the long-term conditions associated with age.
Loneliness is a real problem and can sometimes lead to depression.
So the CCG has to deal with the demand for NHS services that inevitably results from more of us living to a great age.
They have to manage demand for the new drugs and treatments the scientists are developing - and do something about poor health outcomes in inner Aylesbury.
Whoever is in government the NHS budget will be finite, so we’ll need to squeeze as much value as possible out of every £ spent.
The NHS will change over time. The fact that the CCG is being led by doctors and nurses is good. It’s important that they consult us, the people who use the NHS, about their decisions and introduce reforms tailored to the lives and health needs of patients.