12:00pm Thursday 19th April 2012
Last week I chaired two Question Time-style meetings in Devizes and Marlborough to discuss local health services. We had a great panel drawn from Wiltshire Council, local GPs, leaders of the Wiltshire Primary Care Trust (PCT), managers from the new Clinical commissioning groups, (CCGs) representatives from our major hospitals, plus audience members from the ambulance service, charities and patient groups and many elected councillors present. Huge thanks are due to all who came to be interrogated. Some main conclusions are:
* There is confusion about the new CCGs. There will now be one Wiltshire-wide group and three supporting local groups, all led by GPs.
* Once we got behind the jargon, we heard very positive comments about GPs and hospital consultants already starting to meet, communicate and work together in new ways for the benefit of patients.
* Specialist arrangements to support those with chronic conditions will remain unchanged.
* GPs, Primary Care Trust staff and many others are working very hard on the new arrangements but there has been no loss of services to patients.
* There is still a policy to build a Primary Care Centre in Devizes but the PCT says the project is on hold until GPs commit funds to the centre. Councillor Laura Mayes, who chairs the Devizes Area Board, offered that forum as a place to work together on the project going forward and this was enthusiastically supported.
* There are no current plans to reinstate minor injuries services in either Devizes or Marlborough and we would have to show local need and work with the CCGs to get this provided.
The feedback from the dozens of people who came to the meetings has been very positive and many have also suggested that we hold these meetings every year. Providing us with the free, high quality healthcare that we expect is complicated and although under the existing system, PCTs do publish their internal documents and there are frequent local consultations and presentations (often via the excellent Area Board meetings), I think this was the first time that people representing so many elements of the health service were gathered in one place and able to answer questions from the public. The idea of an annual forum is an attractive one and I have suggested to Jane Scott who leads Wiltshire Council that we make this happen.
If I can help you with anything or you would like to see me, please contact my office on (01380) 729358.
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