We want the best health care system in the world, & the most efficient and effective system …
We have an opportunity to do things differently in Cornwall
How do we achieve this?
The challenges in Cornwall
There’s a huge amount going on with health and social care in Cornwall. Including the Sustainability and Transformation Plan [STP]; exposure of abuse and neglect in care homes; concerns over hospital closures, delayed discharges taking up hospital beds, and devolution of services on the way.
Although I have worked in health and care for over 30 years, I struggle to keep up with the issues and understand how services are organised. This isn’t helped by the current polarisation of views.
On the one hand we have a big dose of NHS and Council ‘spin’, excessive bureaucracy and even bullying. On the other hand we have public concern, often expressed around specific issues, and sometimes based on unfounded rumours.
Neither of these positions are helpful, and neither represent the vast majority of people (public, staff and patients) who just want good services delivered by kind people who are open, accountable and transparent.
We have a great opportunity now with the devolution of health and care services. This will be realised if we all build bridges, and transcend the usual hierarchical boundaries. We all need to listen and learn. Everyone, to coin an overused phrase, needs to step out of their comfort zones.
Why we need to think differently?
Several community hospitals are under threat of closure, leading to anger and dominating the headlines. Less attention is given to identifying and measuring the benefits, and any disadvantages of community hospitals. For example, can they be staffed adequately, bearing in mind this means Doctors, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Radiographers, Dieticians, Speech and Language Therapists, Social Workers etc.? Is home care a viable option for patients and carers? Are there any creative options such as bringing back the old style ‘convalescence’? Is rural isolation and lack of public transport the major issue?
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to book a timely GP consultation. This has led to several inaccurate scare stories in the press about ‘cuts’ to face to face GP contacts. This needs deep thought as there are times when easy access to a GP on the ‘phone, or on-line, may actually be a better option. Access to health information from Community Pharmacies or in NHS run clinics in shopping centres, or better health information and advice available locally, may be more effective approach. Leaving GPs free to spend more time with those who need their help and expertise most.
It’s now widely accepted that the NHS and Social Care is underfunded. Despite this there is still a great deal of duplication and waste in the system. How many times have you been asked to repeat information to Health Professionals which others already have? Do some services overlap, and are there gaps? Do different organisations link seamlessly with other organisations? Are all services accessible to all? Many people have important stories to tell on these areas of inefficiency.
Now’s the time to talk about this, find out what’s planned, and take action together. ‘Patient engagement’ key component of the STP and #devcornwall.
Patients and public need to take the lead on this. It’s not the NHS or Cornwall Council’s plan it’s ours.
Personal views of Steve Turner. MD Care Right Now CIC, a Cornish Company
This article is adapted from a letter which fist appeared in the St Austell Voice