News | Health

GPs’ offer of support to pool services

By Dennis Fowle

THE key change will concern GP practices, which will be supported to “co-operate, collaborate and combine” across seven “clusters”. Clustering practices is seen as crit-

ical to integration of out-of-hospital care – forming a bridge between services available at individual GP practices and those in local care hubs or hospital care. The CCG says: “Strong and re-

silient general practice is the bedrock on which our local care plans are being built and these are essential to serve the majority of health needs. “We will support our general practices to co-operate, collaborate and combine by encouraging prac- tices to work together to deliver services at scale and will support practice mergers where this makes sense for the practices and popula- tion.”

The 60West Kent practices have

already formed into seven clusters covering:  Central Maidstone (7) – popula- tion 82,506  East Maidstone (11) – population 66,116 Weald (15) – population 46,781. Malling (6) – population 64,874. These are in addition to Ton- bridge, Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks. The CCG says it supports greater

opportunities for practices to work collaboratively while allowing them to maintain their unique identities and relationships with theirownpa- tients.

Clusters will offer extended hours,

wider services, teams of nurses and allied health professionals, co-ordi- nated care, back office and estate ef- ficiencies, – and support sustainable and resilient general practice. The CCG will prioritise and con-

sider investment in new premises for: existing practices where there is an identified population need;  new practices where merger or population growth would support a new list of more than 8,000 patients. The CCG must meet national

NHStargets for 2019 with urgentGP care appointments available on weekdays from8amto8pmand Sat- urdays and Sundays at times to meet population needs. Currently 54 of the 60 practices in Maidstone and West Kent offer some extended hours outside the core periods (8am-6.30pm Mondays to Fridays), with 11 offering week- ends.  Increasingly of late, West Kent practices are reporting shortages, with nursing capacity the greatest risk. The CCG has taken a strategic approach to workforce planning and development with four key areas: re- cruit, train, refresh, retain.

Community beds are staying

WESTKentCCGsees not only a need to retain beds in community hospitals, but plans more to absorb growth in the next 10 years. It says: “There is strong evidence that a patient should not be

assessed for long-term health needs in an acute hospital. “Provision of a short period of more intense rehabilitation after

some hospital admissions can significantly reduce ongoing needs and these beds are sometimes the right place to assess care for a patient in their own home with a suitable package of support.” Further work will define the future requirements for commu-

nity beds. Finance volunteer needed

MAIDSTONE Hospital League of Friends is looking for a volunteer with a financial background to become its new treasurer. The role requires someone with a knowledge of PAYE and pensions,

and skills using computer-based finance applications. The League of Friends was established in 1983, has 120 volunteers

and raises between £300,000 and £500,000 annually for Maidstone Hos- pital to buy items and equipment to benefit patients. Anybody who would like more information about the role is asked to

get in touch with Jacqui Featherstone on 01622 224781. 18

Maidstone East September 2017 What the changes will mean

THIS is what patients should expect fromthe changes, says the CCG, chaired by Dr Bob Bowes of TunbridgeWells: Joined-up services for treatment and care at home after leaving hospital when medically fit – “your own bed is the best bed”. Health and social care professionals working as a team, with immediate access to personal health records (with patient consent). Using best technology for booking appointments on line, virtual (but secure) consultations, online assessment and diagnostic systems and advice on apps to monitor health. Timely appointments with the

right professional. Care for you as a whole – physical and mental health. Regular monitoring for complex health conditions. More support fromvoluntary and charitable organisations. Better access to health improvement advice and services to help improve and manage own health and reduce risk of serious illness. Surveys revealed patients wanted to improve their own health, particularly losingweight and taking exercise. Main barrierswere:will power, lack of time and pre-existing medical conditions. Quality hospital care when needed – and more care, treatment and support out of hospital.

Call to review urgent and emergency care

THE NHS is pressing for redesign of urgent and emergency care serv- ices to integrate emergency depart- ments, GP out-of-hours services, urgent treatment centres, the NHS 111 calls system and ambulance services using shared standards and processes. The CCG says: “Currently the

urgent care system inWest Kent is complex, often fragmented with lit- tle integration between different sectors: acute, community, primary care and social care; and the serv- ices within those sectors. It is vital to support clinicians to work to- gether to ensure best care.” It adds: “Once patients have been assessed as urgent, we need to en- sure there is an integrated ap-

proach to their care, particularly emergency medical admissions to hospital, involving hospitals, com- munity, primary and ambulance services through joint service plan- ning and sharing clinical informa- tion across different agencies.” From April 2019, the NHS 111 helpline will be improved, so that more patients get expert advice on the phone, avoiding travel for ap- pointments. Staff on the 111 serv- ice will also book both GP appointments and the new urgent treatment centres in Maidstone and TunbridgeWells hospitals The CCG wants the urgent care system to be intuitive, helping peo- ple to make the right decisions.

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