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Blog from the Chair

“Seeing our patients everyday drives us to make important changes that will eventually help people to live longer, healthier lives.”

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Patients remain at the heart of the decisions GPs make.

Firstly welcome to the CCG blog where myself or other members of the CCG, and sometimes guest bloggers will post updates about news, events, CCG projects or a current topic.

Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) took on full responsibility from the outgoing NHS Leicester City Primary Care Trust at the start of April, this year. The CCG was in the first wave of CCGs to pass the strict criteria without any conditions, something we are incredibly proud of. However, our future and the future of our patients’ health and quality of life in Leicester face significant challenges, and we could not be better placed to tackle these head on.

The latest reforms have allowed GPs locally to work much closer with our health partners, and by this I mean hospitals, local authorities, ambulance services and community services. We are positioned to make vital decisions more effectively than we ever could within the primary care trust, which had that extra level of management that was difficult to penetrate.

Essentially the CCG is clinically led. As GPs we spend most of the week seeing our patients, listening to their concerns and managing their health problems with them. We are reminded every day of the needs our patients have and this drives us to find solutions and make important changes that will eventually help people to live longer, healthier lives.

The CCG has made very good progress so far. We have already carried out over 50,000 NHS health checks on city patients. This means that 61% of the city’s eligible population has received an NHS health check. This achievement puts us top out of all CCGs in the country. We believe that training for GP practice staff at all levels should be kept current so patients at risk of developing long term conditions or complications as a result of a pre-existing condition are detected much earlier.

We certainly aren’t looking to the future with rose-tinted spectacles however and admit that there is and always will be a lot of work to do. People in Leicester city have significantly poorer health and live up to three years less than in other parts of the country. We are also working within tight financial constraints and manage our own budgets, unlike the PCT days, so the money we do spend on patient services means we can find innovative, cost-effective solutions as well as ensure the services we buy are most definitely the right ones for local patients.

We know that access to GP services is a problem in the city. We have already started speaking to patient participation groups (PPG) in local surgeries to see how we can work better. Each of the 64 practices in Leicester now has a PPG group which is the first step to being able to communicate with our patients about what it is they actually want to see change. It is also about managing patient expectation and being realistic about what we can provide with the local health economy and these groups are a crucial link to doing this.

The emergency department at the Leicester Royal Infirmary is constantly under significant pressure and we have already been looking at ways to reduce strain on the department and encourage people to avoid A&E if their illness is not life threatening through local campaigns and close partnership working.

A new assessment service launched in early autumn 2013 which sees all adult patients assessed prior to entering A&E to ensure that only patients that need to be there are treated. The new assessment desk which is situation through one central front door at the Urgent Care Centre next to Leicester Royal Infirmary is manned by a qualified health professional who can decide whether the patient has a life threatening condition which needs urgent medical attention or whether they need one of the following solutions:
• Appointments booked at GP where they are registered
• Discharged with self-care advice
• Prescribed medication by nurses
• Treated at urgent care centre

This improvement has meant that 30% of patients are being assessed and treated in the urgent care centre, freeing up capacity and time for staff in ED to concentrate on the more major cases.

Improvements are also being made inside Leicester’s hospitals to develop new ways of ward staff working better together, so patients can be safely discharged in a timely manner. Plans are also in place to improve the communication and interaction between the hospitals and other services such as community hospitals, social care, mental health and patient transport, in order to minimise the length of stay in hospital for patients.