Welcome. It’s been a busy start to the year here at the CCG. We kicked off with an engagement event on 17 January in Middleton, at which we updated the public and stakeholders on key aspects of local healthcare transformation. It was great to see local residents and partners from health service providers, as well as many elected councillors come together to talk about the work underway in the Rochdale borough to help more people stay well and take better care of those who are ill.
Discussion at the event included the role that the new Community Connectors play in supporting people to navigate the health and social care system; how to remove barriers to accessing mental health services and how Focussed Care workers at GP surgeries are making a positive difference in this regard; and the work being done to offer a wider range of health and social care services in neighbourhoods so people don’t need to go into hospital. It was a very interesting night and feedback will contribute to transformation plans. We’ll be holding similar engagement sessions in the months to come and you can stay up to date with plans for local health care transformation on our website.
Also in January, Rochdale’s Integrated Commissioning Board (ICB) agreed to reduce the number of fully funded IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) cycles from three to one, following a six week consultation period. The consultation ran 3rd December 2018 -16th January 2019 attracting some 369 responses via an online survey. The new policy came into effect at 9am on 30th January 2019. This change in policy will not affect any patients who have already been referred to an IVF service (including those who are waiting but have not yet been seen) and patients on any other part of the IVF pathway, including tests for subfertility. Understandably IVF services evoke emotional responses from people. As commissioners we are responsible for funding health and social care services and we have a duty to ensure it is used to best effect.
On to this month and we’ve launched a 30 day engagement phase to gain comments from local people on plans to implement NHS England (NHSE) guidance on prescribing of over-the-counter medicines for minor, short term health concerns.
NHSE’s guidance encourages self-care i.e. treatment with items that can easily be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy, such as indigestion, mouth ulcers and warts and verrucas. It also stops prescribing of drugs of low clinical effectiveness and reduces the prescription of drugs available over the counter for the treatment of minor conditions which are self-limiting and do not need any medical advice or treatment as they will clear up on their own, such as sore throats, coughs and colds.
We are asking for your views on the guidance because if we can support people to self-manage common conditions such as coughs and colds this could help lower the 57 million GP consultations each year for minor ailments, which cost the NHS approximately £2 billion and takes up to an hour a day on average for every GP. Between April 2017 and March 2018, HMR CCG spent £1.85 million on medicines that are available to purchase over-the-counter (OTC). Much of these medicines are for long-term or complex conditions, but a considerable number of them are for conditions that may be considered suitable for self-care. Previous engagement on this subject has told us that the majority of local people believe that these measures are common sense and required in order to protect our local NHS resources into the future. You can read detailed information about the proposals on our website and share your views via the online survey. The engagement phase is open until 10 March so please do get involved.
Also this month, Steve Rumbelow, Chief Executive at Rochdale Borough Council and Accountable Chief Officer for our organisation, HMR CCG, dropped in to meet patients and staff at Rochdale Infirmary’s Oasis dementia unit. The Oasis Unit is a 10 bed facility for patients from the Rochdale borough with dementia and confusion arriving with acute medical conditions, either through the Urgent Care Centre, the Clinical Assessment Unit (CAU) or referred directly by their GP. Mr Rumbelow’s visit included talking with patients about their experience of the Unit and discussing with doctors, nurses and other staff on the Unit the different types of care provided for patients. You can read more about the visit and the Oasis Unit in this news story.
Our colleagues at Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board have launched a new programme called ICON aimed at helping local parents and carers with young babies to cope with infant crying.
ICON provides the important messages below on how to cope with a crying baby:
- I – Infant crying is normal and it will stop
- C – Comfort methods can sometimes soothe the baby and the crying will stop. Is the baby hungry, tired or in need of a nappy change. ?
- O – It is OK to walk away, if you have checked the baby is safe and the crying is getting you. After a few minutes when you are feeling calm, go back and check on the baby.
- N – Never, ever shake or hurt a baby, it can cause lasting brain damage or death.
A baby’s cry can be extremely upsetting for parents and carers and the important ICON message should be shared with everyone who looks after a child. For more, look out for messages on Twitter and Facebook and join in the conversation.
Looking ahead to March and our next Governing Body meeting is on Friday 15 March, 10.30am-12.30pm at Number One Riverside. Members of the public are invited to attend and public questions are welcome too. These can be submitted through the website on the Governing Body page here or asked during the open questions slot at beginning of each meeting.
Thanks for reading
Dr Chris Duffy