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News | Health First anniversary health check Successes

A&Ewaiting timesAmanagerwas appointed in September and effi- ciency has improved, with 95.9% of patients seen, treated, admitted or discharged within four hours. Transfer times from ambulance to A&E improved too. “We are get- ting better, but are not good enough yet,” said Dr Bowes.

C-Diff and MRSA Both infections are now under control, due to greater knowledge and guarded use of antibiotics in hospital and by GPs.

Enhanced rapid response This multi-discipline team of nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and therapy assistants has been expanded to assess “cri- sis” patients in their own homes within two hours of referral. It works to reduce hospital admis- sions and early hospital discharge and helps many dementia cases. One team is based in Coxheath.

Talking therapies This service helps patients who suffer from anx- iety, depression, stress and phobias and capacity is being increased to cope with a longwaiting list.

RomneyWard, Maidstone Hospital

It is a year since 12 GPswere elected by their 250 peers to manage most of our local NHS services with a budget of £472m. We look at how they and a team of NHS

professionals doing for the 463,000 residents of Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Malling,Weald and (part of) Sevenoaks. TheDowns Mail attends monthlymeetings

of NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body (CCG). We invited chairman Dr Bob Bowes to pinpoint early successes – and look at key challenges ahead.

As Maidstone has no cottage hospi- tal RomneyWard has been adapted for physical rehabilitation (non medical).

Commissioning through public engagement Two hundred mem- bers of the public were chosen to help make decisions on selection of services to be commissioned – for example, a new process to assess people with learning difficulties.


Mapping the future The greatest challenge is to maintain and im- prove the quality of services to pa- tients within a very tight NHS budget. The aim is to reduce de- mand on hospital services and de-

liver more care closer to home, making better use of NHS funds in the knowledge there will be no new money. An emphasis will be on working with KCC and more pro- ductive use of social care. This could become very evident over the next two years.

Out-of-hours service This is being retendered by the CCG, which can track demand through NHS 111 phone calls. The needs of rural and deprived areas had to be met. Therewould be no return to the old system serviced by GPs, who al- ready work 10/12 hours a day, but there would be collaboration.

Child and adolescent mental health service There is a need to

improve both capacity and effi- ciency.

Patient transport After a period of severe difficulties, a recovery trajec- tory has been agreed with provider NSLwhich will see performance hit contract in the next few months.

GPreferrals and prescription costs The CCG continues to encourage GPs to be more mindful of the costs of referring patients to consultants and hospitals and restricting growth. They are also encouraged to use cost-effective quality pre- scribing of medicines.

GP practice federations GP prac- tices are to be encouraged to start a process of working as groups, pro- viding “strength in numbers”. This will lead to better access to services outside hospital, delivered by teams working closer than now and based around GP practices. It should also lead to enhanced edu- cational and training systems.

Overall financial position West Kent has received significantly below the NHS national fair-share target (£40m this year), but this will be partly rectified in future years, helping to balance expenditure. “Wemust achieve the aims ofMap- ping The Future,” said Dr Bowes.

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Maidstone Town April 2014

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