by Dr David Chilvers, Clinical Lead for NHS Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group
It may have passed you by, but a meeting held ten or so days ago could have a big impact on how your future health and social care is accessed and delivered by the NHS across Fareham.
More than 50 people attended a launch event for Better Local Care in the town.
They have taken the first steps to potentially transforming local health services.
Their number included representatives of patient groups and the voluntary and community sector. There were also around ten GPs, other clinicians and key representatives from local authorities, social care and mental health.
The aim of Better Local Care is to do just what is says on the tin – provide improved services for you on your doorstep.
I know many of you have seen or heard of service changes in neighbouring Gosport and wondered when things may start in Fareham. Well, now they have. And other schemes are beginning to snowball in other parts of Hampshire too.
The fact is that the way we deliver health has to change. Pressure and demand on existing services is not sustainable unless we in the NHS radically rethink the way we do things, and that change is happening under a banner which has taken on various names or brands, such as Vanguard, Multi-speciality Community Provider (MCP) or just more simply Better Local Care.
We appreciate that some of the changes we are talking about will not be well received in all quarters. It may mean that, depending on their individual circumstances, people who may in the past have seen a doctor for a particular condition may instead see a nurse or other appropriate clinician. It may mean that instead of being admitted to hospital, you get cared for in your own home.
Some people don’t welcome change. They are worried by it, and I understand the reasons for that.
But keeping the status quo is not an option. We need to plan for the NHS to remain not only sustainable but so we can also provide improved services despite the challenges ahead.
The big rise in the number of elderly people living longer, often with multiple long-term conditions, has put a strain on both the primary (GP services), secondary (hospital) and community sectors of the NHS.
In Gosport, the need to overcome the problem of recruiting GPs has contributed to all the practices and partner organisations working together in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago, including the same-day access service at Gosport War Memorial Hospital.
Different areas have different needs but one major outcome of the meeting the other week in Fareham is that the attendees signed up for one of two workstreams – one of which will include care for the frail, the other will have a wider and a more mixed portfolio.
I am delighted that three Fareham area GPs have already stepped forward to be clinical leads for the project – Dr Emma Nash, Dr Tom Bertram and Dr Mark Saville. I know too that they will do a terrific job.
All our partners are being ‘connected’ to agree the priorities that they wish to focus on in Fareham, so they can explore new models of care and innovations to break down some of the existing challenges and barriers.
In six months, everyone will meet up again to review the progress and share learning - with each other and a wider audience.
This is a hugely exciting opportunity for us to make a significant difference to health services in Fareham and provide patients with the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
I’ll keep you informed so please do ‘watch this space.