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393 Health: The NHS in action


A patient approach


to good practices NHS Slough Clinical Commissioning Group is taking innovative steps to address the specific needs of local patients


J


ust 20 miles west of London, Slough is one of the most densely populated parts of the UK. “It’s a busy and bustling


place,” says Dr Jim O’Donnell, Chair of NHS Slough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). “We’re blessed with diversity and a wide-awake population. We also have a large business community, and are home to more company headquarters than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.” However, such a dense urban population isn’t without


its problems. Slough has one of the highest birth rates in the country, significant amounts of deprivation and—due to its proximity to Heathrow and motorways—concerns about air quality. Consequently, the CCG is faced with an array of health challenges.


Efficient services Slough CCG is responsible for the commissioning and management of healthcare for around 144,000 patients, and there is a strong relationship between the 16 practices it unites. “We cooperate and learn from each other,” says Dr O’Donnell. “Tis is because each practice understands the CCG is working to improve the work of GPs and deliver more efficient services.” Te CCG’s work is concentrated around a two-year


operational plan (2014 to 2016) that feeds into a five-year plan. Priorities include promoting preventative measures and self-care, upskilling GPs, increasing the capacity of primary care, improving care for the elderly and seven-day working. Te strategy is driven by the input of local people. Tese goals have been helped by the first wave of the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, for which Slough was one of just 20 successful bids from across the country. One particular priority is diabetes, as instances of the disease


in Slough are almost twice the national average. “We embrace our challenges in Slough,” says Dr O’Donnell. “It’s how we make improvements. In the case of diabetes, we’re also second in the country for the number of patients with access to all available care processes for the disease. We have a significant number of diabetics, but we look after them and test them on an annual basis.”


“We want the patients’ voice to be the most powerful. We welcome their input as an important part of how we improve”


Life expectancy in Slough has advanced impressively with


respect to the England averages. Ten years ago it was three years shorter than the national average; it is now under a year. It is evidence that the CCG is improving outcomes for its population.


Public engagement Engagement with the public is crucial to the CCG’s success, and this has been the case since day one. “At our first public meeting, a woman asked if we could help her get a GP appointment,” says Dr O’Donnell. “Since then, we’ve provided an extra 60,000 appointments and have not stopped listening.” Te CCG created a patient forum that provides input on a monthly basis and holds workshops with GPs to co-design action points. Tere is also an annual open day that takes place in every practice where valuable feedback is obtained from a wide range of patients. “We want the patients’ voice to be the most powerful,”


says Dr O’Donnell. “We welcome their input as an important part of how we improve. It’s an inclusive process, which extends to working closely with neighbouring CCGs. We’re a very cohesive medical community.” Te group’s work isn’t going unrewarded. In November


2014, it won Tames Valley and Wessex Leadership Academy’s Governing Body of the Year for being “forward-thinking, innovative and diverse”. “It’s confirmation we’re on the right track,” says Dr O’Donnell, “and that the work we’re doing is necessary.” Slough CCG is creating healthcare outcomes that are


focused on the priority needs of its patients. “It’s a tremendous time to be a GP and Slough is a fantastic place to practice,” says Dr O’Donnell. “Te innovation, enthusiasm and cohesion in our CCG is incredible. Every day the individual patient stories remind us why we do our job—and strive to do as much as we can, and be the best that we can be.” — www.sloughccg.nhs.uk


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