NHS Reforms – How will they work in Warwickshire?

A really good turnout!

Yesterday was pretty busy around here – we held a partnership event for all of the major health organisations in Warwickshire, to try and work out how everyone will work together as a result of the NHS reforms. The event was co-hosted by Councillor Les Caborn (our Chair of the Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee) and Andrew Lawrence from the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS).

At the event we had reps from (watch out for acronyms here) CCGsPCTs, HWBBCQC, LINk, NHSCfPSHealthwatch, and local Councils.

Locally, most of the unanswered questions are about how these agencies will work together, as people have new responsibilities, or find themselves working with different organisations. The idea behind the event was to get everyone in the same room, to try to provide answers to these questions, and build what will be important working relationships for the future.

Here are some of the things we learned:

Health is about patients and the public

I’m not saying that we didn’t all already know this, but it was kind of encouraging to affirm this as a lot of the debate on the reforms has been about structures and organisations, rather than improving care. It was really useful to try and map out all of the people and organisations involved – each table put patients and the public right at the centre of their ‘solar system’.

Note the Spaceship…

A lot of our work should focus on stopping people becoming patients, or sending them to the right people to get better.

I suppose this expands on the adage of “prevention is better than cure”, though is a bit more complicated than that. We heard from health professionals that in a lot of cases, people who have minor complaints either put off seeing their GP until their condition gets more serious (which is clearly bad for the patient, and more expensive for the NHS) – or even worse, wait until their condition is really advanced, when they present to A&E on a Saturday night, with a problem that should have been sorted long before then.

A focus on early intervention and preventative campaigns doesn’t just make sense from a health point of view; with budgets as constrained as they are, can we afford not to nip these problems in the bud?

GPs are getting on with the job they’ve been given

We had reps from 2 out of the 3 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) operating in Warwickshire at our event – the message from them was that, despite concerns expressed by the British Medical Association and others, they’ve been given the responsibility to commission healthcare services in their area, so they’re getting on with it.

The CCGs are going through the process of being authorised at the moment, with them taking over responsibility from the Arden Cluster (Primary Care Trust) in April 2013. As with any membership organisation, there is the problem of engagement, and they admit that not all GPs will want to be involved with commissioning. They say they are working to combat this though.

Health Scrutiny is like a spaceship (yes, really)

Continuing the solar system theme here – County and Unitary Councils have had the responsibility since 2001 for scrutinising local health services (i.e. Health Scrutiny) and have powers to require information from local health trusts, and to call in their Chief Executives if there are problems. Out of all of health bodies, Health Scrutiny hasn’t been really affected by the health reforms, and still has the powers to look at anything that Councillors and public want it to. This can range from the closure of a ward in Rugby, to a specific group to look at Mental Health services for young people, or even parking at University Hospital in Coventry. Scrutiny can go anywhere, and look at anything. Like a spaceship.

The next steps in Warwickshire

The event went really well – you can see some more of the debate and photos on Twitter (@WarksDemocracy). Quick feedback from most people was that it was useful to get around a table with everyone – even if we didn’t all agree all the time.

County Councillors will be working with District Councillors over the coming months to work out how local democracy and accountability can be promoted in the new health world. We’ll be looking to avoid duplication between councils and hopefully, by working together, get better results for local residents. This should then help how the councils work with the CCGs, Health and Wellbeing Board, and Health Scrutiny.

We’ll be holding another event in October – hopefully we can update you all further after that – things are moving pretty quickly, so who knows where we’ll be by then!

About Martyn Harris
I work for Warwickshire County Council as a Democratic Services Officer. What's that? Minute taker, researcher, advisor, general policy-type person. Throw in a healthy does of Scrutiny work and an interest in corporate governance and there you go.

One Response to NHS Reforms – How will they work in Warwickshire?

  1. martharris says:

    Hello again – we’ve just posted a feedback survey on the web for this event – Click here to take survey

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