Get involved to help shape the future of local health and care services
Health and care organisations across the county, including Herefordshire Council, are encouraging residents to get involved in helping to shape the future of their local health and care services.
As part of a national NHS programme, which has brought neighbouring counties together to create 44 individual areas across the country, Herefordshire and Worcestershire health and care organisations are working in partnership to create a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). The five year plan will improve local health outcomes, enhance health prevention measures, address care and quality issues and resolve financial pressures up to 2020/21.
Ongoing NHS engagement work has suggested that a focus on improving access to GPs and pharmacies, along with more effective care and treatments closer to home, offer the best way to enable people to enjoy better health. It also suggests that residents want to ensure that people are only admitted to hospital if they really need to be, which would require community services to be further strengthened, focusing on prevention and providing services in resident's own homes. This could mean a change in how community hospitals are used, perhaps offering a broader range of services, such as more outpatient or day surgery, reducing the need for overnight stays.
People want to know they can access care when they need it urgently, in the right place and without delay. This depends on acute services only treating those who genuinely need that high level of care and treatment, ensuring specialist services can cope with demand.
Although Herefordshire and Worcestershire NHS services will receive more money over the next few years, it won't be enough to keep up with increasing demand. If services remain as they are now, they would need to find an additional £230million by 2021. Added to this, is the fact that councils will have significantly less money than they do now to cover the cost of care services.
Councillor Patricia Morgan, Cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "We have been working with our partners across Herefordshire and Worcestershire on a draft health and care services plan, which builds on the conversations and engagement we have had with our communities over recent years.
"The plan is only draft at this stage and provides some early thoughts on how local services could change in response to significant challenges, including rising demands on health services, poorer health outcomes in some areas and an ageing population. The plan will be subject to full engagement with residents and, where appropriate, formal consultation on specific issues, before any significant decisions are taken.
"We need to ensure that any changes deliver positive improvements to provide safe and effective health and care services for our county's residents, within the resources available. Our NHS system cannot continue as it is and tough choices will need to be made about what requires further investment, what needs to change and what could potentially be stopped.
"There also needs to be a greater emphasis on making it easier for people to lead healthier lives in order to avoid them developing lifestyle related illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. We need to work directly with people to support them to take more control over the management of their own health conditions. We also need to work closely with local housing providers, schools, colleges and businesses, whilst empowering our communities, voluntary sector and local groups to help put physical and mental wellbeing at the top of everyone's agenda."