The national health headlines caught my eye today: the massive pressures on A&E departments and fears that this pressure leads to errors and possibly unnecessary deaths (here’s the BBC coverage).
Basically the story says there is much to put right in the NHS so that A&E becomes the last resort for patients, not the first place they think of when they need urgent care. A&E was intended to offer life-saving, emergency care but changes in the NHS and lack of confidence in out of hours provision has led to more and more people attending A&E because it’s the only place they feel is available – or trust.
Local GPs have seen this crisis looming and it’s why we have come together in clinical commissioning groups to begin the changes in the NHS which should ease this pressure. As we know from the Meeting the Challenge consultation, more A&Es is not the answer, there aren’t enough specialist staff for the A&Es that already exist, nor the cash to pay them or provide the highly expensive equipment they need to work effectively.
So what’s to be done? Well, North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning group believes that preventing unnecessary hospital admissions is the key. If we can make health and social care services more convenient, seamless and effective then we can give better support to help people manage their long term conditions and stay as well as they can be. We can also do more to support the elderly and vulnerable to keep them as well as possible.
We can help to achieve this by working closely with the other organisations providing health a social care services such as Kirklees Council and Locala to bring down barriers between services and we can also do this by redesigning care pathways (how services are delivered) and redefining how and when patients get onto or follow that pathway.
It’s a complex jigsaw and can’t be done overnight, but with determination and goodwill on all sides (which is clearly evident) I believe we can quickly start to make a difference and make the ailing NHS better.