Happy New Year to all Local readers and here’s wishing you all the best of health and success in 2014. Health is a key responsibility for me at the county council. I am part of the council’s executive decision-making team, responsible for NHS liaison. I am also chairman of Lincolnshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board. These boards have been set up all over the country as part of major changes to the organisation of the NHS recently. Alongside district and county councillors are representatives from Lincolnshire’s four GP clusters (known as Clinical Commissioning Groups or CCGs), NHS England, council directors for Children’s Services, Adult Services and Public Health, and independent health monitor Healthwatch Lincolnshire.
Part of our remit is to ensure that health and care services from all the different agencies in the county work together, and encourage them to plan and buy services together to ensure best value for money.
Your experience of health and care in the county may be very mixed. I often hear both positive and negative accounts from people about the services they receive from the whole spectrum of services -hospitals, GPs, mental health, nursing and social care. A key piece of work called the Sustainable Services Review, is being done in the county looking at how we can make sure these services are high quality and safe, in the light of increasing demand and financial pressures. Doing nothing just isn’t an option. In a few years’ time, collectively the whole health system in Lincolnshire will be facing a shortfall of £100m every year if we carry on as we are. That’s why staff from all organisations have been carrying out this review to look at different way of delivering services together, making the most of the budgets we have.
One of the main ambitions is to treat less people in major hospitals, including A&E, and meet the vast majority of people’s health and care needs in the community, near where they live. This could see staff from all organisations meeting the health needs of people in that area, and dealing with a range of issues at one time in one place.
The Health and Wellbeing Board signed off the ‘blueprint’ document produced from the review before Christmas. In effect, we have given the go ahead for the next piece of work which looks at how the ‘bigger picture’ plans could work in reality, and to put together options, including more specific site details, that we can ask the public about later this year.
In the meantime, if you want to put your views across I would urge you to contact Healthwatch Lincolnshire to share your experiences and ideas. Contact them on 01205 820892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org