●● WITH Dr Paul Bowen, a GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton, and executive chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) I OFTEN hear the phrase ‘we have an ageing population’ as justification for NHS restructure.
While it’s obvious that none of us is getting any younger, it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate what the effect may be on services.
However, you don’t need to look far.
Life expectancy in eastern Cheshire is well above the national average, with the proportion of people over the age of 85 among the highest in the north of England.
Similarly, one in five people in eastern Cheshire is over 65.
So, if policy makers need a vision of the future, look no further.
There is a real opportunity to re-shape services for today’s population to help the rest of the country learn, hopefully, to do it right.
There will be a financial shortfall of nearly £80m in eastern Cheshire by 2018/19 if demand for care services continues at the current rate.
Every day, 12 times as many people go to see their GP than to A&E, yet one in three says they wait too long.
Of these patients, only one in 20 is referred onto another part of the NHS.
In an age where we immediately jump to concerns about A&E, it’s worth remembering that a year of care under a GP costs the taxpayer less than one A&E admission.
Thankfully, there is a solution.
For the last 18 months, NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group has been working with Cheshire East council, NHS England, local GPs, the hospital and mental health trusts to agree an approach called Caring Together.
The vision is simple – build care around people, not diseases or organisations.
This reduces unnecessary hospital admissions and enables people to live safely at home for as long as possible.
The theory now needs changing into reality. Implementing new models of care requires cultural, organisational and contractual change.
Look out for a booklet, called Continuing the Conversation, which will be published soon on the website caringtogether. info.
The booklet will explain what still needs to happen to make Caring Together a reality and how you can get involved.
Continuing the Conversation will also be available to pick up in GP surgeries.
●● Dr Paul Bowen