Essex health: Adapting is the key to ensure we meet expectations of care

Hasan Chowhan

Hasan Chowhan - Credit: Archant

Its very obvious, not least locally, that the NHS is very stretched, says Dr Hasan Chowhan, of the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group.

We are struggling to keep up with the increasing demands of looking after more people with complex long-term conditions. There are just not enough trained GPs and nurses so we need to explore different models of care.

I am now, as well my day job as a Colchester GP, taking on the role of clinical director at the NHS North East Essex CCG – the people who commission local healthcare services. We have to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of many of our local services for patients. A good example of what we have already done is the Rapid Assessment Service, which enables advanced nurse practitioners to treat people at home, giving patients a better service and helping to keep them out of hospital. At an advanced stage is our major improvement of community services, Care Closer to Home. More about that in later months as it starts to work. For now we have to find smarter ways to make sure that our funding goes further to provide the services you need, and that you are given the opportunity to tell us what you need.

The types of disease we see are evolving and as a direct consequence treatments need to change. New medicines are becoming more widely available over the counter, and public expectations and priorities are certainly changing, too. So the NHS needs to adapt and shift focus to ensure the services we are providing are still affording us the care we need. Moving forward we have to work together with all our partners and the voluntary sector are a huge component of this. Our new comprehensive, locally-based diabetes service and the brand new single service treating patients with all forms of lymphoedema shows what can be done when we work with local patients and key voluntary organisations, who are the real experts.

NICE, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which recommends which treatments are effective and provide value for money, already prioritise some treatments over others. We try to follow that guidance where we can, but we still have the opportunity to take our decisions with consideration to our local healthcare needs and our patients’ priorities.

North East Essex won’t be alone, these sorts of decisions will have to be taken all over the country. We will ensure that our local patients, carers, families and organisations are kept fully involved in all decision-making so we can realise our vision for better healthcare together.

One project currently running is the re-procurement of the Non-emergency Patient Transport Service, which provides transport for patients attending NHS hospital appointments. We are taking the opportunity to listen to service users’ views to help us make improvements to future services.

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