NHS Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is today (Monday 11 July) setting out how it plans to change the way health services are delivered to meet the changing health and care needs of local people, and seeking people’s views on a series of proposals to ensure the financial sustainability of local health services.
The CCG’s “Fit for the Future” programme includes plans for new and expanded services delivered nearer to where people live, a stronger role for primary care and an increased focus on supporting people to maintain their health and independence. There is also however a big financial challenge to meet in the short term, with the CCG facing a projected £14 million deficit this year.
A rapid increase in population, particularly the growth in the number of older people and those suffering from one or more long-term conditions, is putting health and care services under increasing pressure. These pressures can be seen in the rising number of people attending hospital and the difficulty that many people report when trying to get an appointment to see their local GP. It is also putting the health system under unsustainable financial pressure. To respond to these challenges the CCG is setting out a programme of change which focuses much more strongly on services that support individuals to remain as well and as independent as possible, are delivered closer to home and which reduce the need for often unnecessary hospital-based care whilst improving health and wellbeing. We are also working closely with other health and care organisations on wider system change as part of the Mid and South Essex Success Regime.
Local primary care services are going to play a crucial role in bringing about these changes. Dr Arv Guniyangodage, Chair of NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG and a local GP, said: “When we asked local people about how they use health and care services, the overwhelming majority told us that the services provided by their local GP practice were the most used and valued. Local primary care services, such as GPs and practice nurses are well placed to build strong local connections and there is much potential for them to take a stronger lead role in co-ordinating the care of the most vulnerable patients, with the support of more services based in the community. We are working with all our member GP practices on a plan to grow and develop services in this way.
“We also need to recognise that for many people, a prescription for medicine or referral to hospital is not the most appropriate way to meet their needs. Sometimes tackling loneliness, encouraging people to take exercise and eat well is the way to help improve health and wellbeing. In partnership with other local agencies we have launched a new Social Prescribing service where GPs and other health or social care professionals can refer people for support from an appropriate voluntary sector service. This is working really well and we hope to be able to expand this for more people to benefit.”
Providing more services outside of hospitals and in the community is one of the key areas of development for the future. One significant move in this direction will be the CCG’s plans for developing intermediate care services. Intermediate care is short term support to help individuals regain as much independence as possible after a period of ill health. In Basildon and Brentwood some of this care is provided in the community but much of it is provided by a number of community hospital beds. The CCG’s Intermediate Care review found that as many as 40% of patients in a bed may well have been better off being looked after with a package of care in their own home. As a result, the CCG is proposing to boost investment in a range of new and expanded community-based services, such as the new Reablement at Home service, community nursing services and the Dementia Crisis Team, enabling us to reduce the number of these community hospital beds. This will allow us to provide high quality care for more people while patients benefit from the right level of support needed to regain and maintain their independence in their own homes. As part of this proposal, one of the existing community wards could become a community health centre, offering a range of health services for the wider community.
While the CCG is looking forward to the future of health services for local people, the financial situation is a pressing problem which needs to be tackled. John Leslie, the CCG’s Accountable Officer, said: “We are making long-term changes to the way we deliver health services but it is very important that we get on top of our current financial challenges. We have a legal duty to live within our means but we are facing a growing gap between how much we receive for local health services each year and how much it is costing. This matters because if we don’t take measures to bring our finances under control, our deficit will continue to grow and we will end up having to make reductions in a greater range of services than we are currently proposing.
“With this in mind, we are putting forward a set of proposals to introduce tighter restrictions on a number of treatments and procedures offered to people in Basildon and Brentwood. We believe these proposed measures represent a way to help us make important savings while having the lowest possible impact on patient care. We do recognise however that some people will be more affected than others and we are keen to listen to the impact these proposals may have before we make any decisions on how to proceed.”
As part of the formal public consultation, the CCG is holding a series of listening events in July, August and September where local people can say what they think of the CCG’s future plans for the development of health services and also our specific proposals to the changes in the local Service Restriction Policy.
Basildon: Wednesday, 27th July, 6pm-8pm at Pitsea Leisure Centre, Northlands Pavement, Pitsea Centre, Basildon SS14 3DG
Brentwood: Thursday 28th July, 6pm-8pm at Brentwood Community Hospital, Crescent Drive, Brentwood CM15 8DR
Wickford: Friday 12th August, 10am-12noon at Wickford Health Centre, Market Rd, Wickford SS12 0AG
Billericay: Friday 26th August, 1pm-3pm at Emmanuel Church Hall, Laindon Road, Billericay CM12 9LD
Basildon: CCG Annual General Meeting, Thursday 8th September, 4pm-8pm at St. George’s Suite, The Basildon Centre, St. Martin's Square, Basildon, Essex, SS14 1DL
People can find out more information and feedback their views here