Dr Shane Gordon: My pledge to keep listening to views on future of NHS

Dr Shane Gordon

Dr Shane Gordon - Credit: Archant

Window on the NHS

From the 1,000 or so people who joined in our Big Care Debate, it’s clear there is a broad understanding of the challenges facing the NHS.

Everyone agrees it is wonderful that more people are living longer and enjoying a better quality of life in their later years.

Most people know that the demand for health services is rising faster than the increases in NHS budgets.

Like many, I have been inspired to meet these challenges by NHS Change Day on March 3. It’s great to see such commitment and enthusiasm. From all sorts of people wanting to do small but vital new things – that can make all the difference when it’s you, or a family member who is ill.

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Many people at the Big Care Debates were equally inspiring in their determination to work together to keep the NHS healthy and improving. At the public meetings in February, health and social care planners from councils and the NHS heard views, experiences and ideas from the public. Strong themes to emerge from the meetings and surveys include:

n Primary care – the overwhelming majority of feedback relates to GP services, particularly difficulties in getting appointments. There is strong demand for extended surgery hours to fit in with people who work. Technology is seen as a useful tool to supplement face-to-face appointments with GP.

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n Self-care – people understand their role in keeping themselves and their families well through lifestyle, diet, exercise, stress reduction. Loneliness and isolation are a concern.

n Long-term conditions – enabling people to better manage long-term conditions is key for the NHS to save resources. Support from professionals, carers and care home staff is crucial.

n Prevention and intervention - annual health MOT seen as useful, health screening and immunisation should be easily available. Early diagnosis so people can be treated in the community rather than hospital.

n Patient-centred care – people want to be treated as partners in their own care.

With a growing population, increasing numbers with long-term conditions and medical advances, there is an ever-widening gap between what the NHS is expected to provide and what it can afford – in the case of our area, it amounts to about £20million each year for the next three years. The North East Essex CCG will work with councils and other health and social care providers to do everything possible to meet the financial challenges to support the needs of local people.

Closer working between health and social care, changes to the way GP practices are organised and concentration of highly specialist care at fewer major hospitals are needed; and many decisions have to be made. It’s encouraging so many people are engaging in the debate with a well-informed and realistic approach to the challenges.

Our latest proposals can be found at www.neessexccg.nhs.uk, including Care Closer to Home, support for carers, mental health and dementia. My pledge, though not new, is to keep listening to and taking into account the views and needs of the people we serve.

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