A “Big Conversation” About the NHS

People in Teesside, County Durham and Darlington are being encouraged to take part in a big conversation about the future of the NHS.

‘Call to action’ is a national exercise to gather the views of patients, the public, NHS partners and staff, on how to meet challenges facing the NHS over the next 10 years.

Today’s NHS faces significant pressures, particularly in relation to an ageing population, a rise in the number of people with long-term conditions, the use of cutting edge treatments and drugs, and health problems linked with things such as poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption.

These elements, combined with rising costs and less money, place huge demands on current ways of providing services and care and threaten the long-term sustainability of the health service.

Health services in Teesside, County Durham and Darlington have some unprecedented challenges.  There is a predicted 46 per cent increase, over the next ten years, in the number of people over the age of 85.  The area has a greater number of people with two or more long-term conditions, placing increasing pressure on local health services to ensure that patients get the right treatment, whether at hospital, at GP surgeries or through other health services.

NHS representatives are organising a number of meetings and events in the area to share information about this changing environment and seek views and ideas about: GP services, prevention and diagnosis, improving health equalities, integration of services, putting patients in control and innovation in services and care.

An online survey here is available to provide feedback online.

Cameron Ward, director of the Durham, Darlington and Teesside area team of NHS England said: “The NHS nationally faces a potential £30billion funding gap between now and 2020.  This financial situation, when combined with the health, age profile and lifestyle of the population, poses a significant challenge.

“We have some excellent health and social care services in the area.  Our hospitals, GP practices, dental surgeries, optometrists and pharmacists provide very good services looking after patients and their families.  We consistently meet waiting time requirements, carry out health checks, provide vaccinations  and ensure speedy cancer diagnoses, amongst many other things.

“The NHS is relied upon and held in high regard by many people.

“We want to preserve the values that underpin our health service, so changing how we do things does not mean cutting core services or charging for care.

“But we urgently need to look at doing things differently, more efficiently and effectively to make sure we can provide the highest quality, safest and most efficient care for patients.

“We’re working with doctors, nurses and others, through clinical commissioning groups, to stimulate discussion about new ideas and solutions, get a shared view on how we can make progress and improvements. The ‘call to action’ is for everybody – patients, members of the public, local authorities, Health and Wellbeing Boards, and health and social care staff – to get involved and help us to make sure we continue to provide safe, high quality care well into the future.”

Feedback from a range of engagement activities will guide the development of three to five year local and national plans designed to safeguard the NHS into the future.

Ali Wilson, Chief Officer for NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group said, “The challenges the NHS faces clearly affect us locally and we will need to build on the innovative work we are already doing to design and improve clinical service pathways. We would like to hear the views of our patients and the public to help us plan and best deliver services that meet the unique needs of our communities. Please get involved by visiting our website, emailing or writing to us or by participating in our forthcoming public engagement events.”

Alternatively, visit www.england.nhs.uk and search ‘call to action’.

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