I’m delighted to stand in for this special end-of-year blog on behalf of our Chair, Dr Chris Duffy, who is still recuperating after a spell of ill health. I’m sure you’ll join with me to wish him a very happy Christmas and a speedy recovery.
This month we are conveying our range of healthy messages in a festive advent calendar tailored for social media with the help of a new member of the national ‘elf service. Get in the festive spirit and follow us on Facebook (@NHS.HMR) and twitter (@NHSHMR) and make sure you see the daily fun. We are grateful for likes, loves, shares, comments and retweets. The campaign hashtag is #elfyadventhmr. If you are not on social media you can still view the advent calendar on Twitter and Facebook
Before I begin our look back at 2019, I wanted to let you know about a relatively new facility that is available for patients in HMR called Consultant Connect. Consultant Connect is an app for a specified list of specialities which allows GPs to have immediate access to the views and opinions of specialist consultants via phone, instant message and photo message, should they need to seek an opinion for a patient who may need to be referred on for treatment. By having immediate and direct access to specialist advice, clinicians can ensure that patients get the right care first time and this can often mean that patients avoid unnecessary trips to hospital. If you think this may be useful for you, speak to your GP about it.
2019 has been a busy year for the CCG as we have continued to develop joint working with our partners and in particular, Rochdale Council. Back in January we invited members of the community to Middleton Masonic Hall to hear about the impact of the transformation programme in the borough – we were delighted that so many people engaged with us in this way. In February, following our previous consultation period, we began to implement the new eligibility criteria for IVF funding, which had been reduced to one fully funded round. Patients already referred into the system before 30th January 2019 would be eligible for the previous three rounds. Also in February we invited your views on NHS England’s proposal to cease the prescribing of over the counter medicines by GPs and this arrangement was rolled out across the borough from July.
The end of February saw us launch a new website for the CCG and in March the Governing Body enjoyed an informal meeting at Lowerplace Primary School which offered a great learning opportunity for both the pupils and Governing Body members. We returned the invite to Lowerplace School when we asked pupils to attend our Annual General Meeting in June here at Riverside when we were able to tell them how we had allocated the NHS money for the borough to buy health services for the population. It was a fun and informative session all round.
May saw us launch an innovative programme to promote self care for people with long term conditions – this time for people with COPD, ie respiratory problems. Thanks to a successful bid to a GM programme, HMR was successful in receiving a number of free apps for the management of COPD, that practitioners across the borough could gift to eligible patients. We are reviewing the roll out and success of this pilot.
September saw us again honour our hard working doctors and practice staff in our STAR awards, as well as celebrate the one year anniversary of the HMR Community Cancer Service – some great achievements! Participating in the NHS Ambassadors programme was another high note for 2019 which has seen a variety of professionals including Dr Duffy visiting local primary schools to teach them about NHS careers.
From September as we moved towards the winter months we have been busy ordering and vaccinating patients against the seasonal flu virus. And this year despite better than ever awareness of the need to get protected, there have been supply issues with the nasal flu vaccination for 2 and 3 year olds which has been a bit of a challenge. Despite this we are geared up, as ever, to deal with the usual supply of coughs and colds, trips and slips that Winter offers.
Finally, here’s a diary date for next month. On Friday, 17th January 2020 we are holding our Governing Body meeting at an earlier time of 9.30am to 10.30am. The meeting will be held at Number One Riverside, Rochdale and as ever members of the public are invited to attend and see decision making in action.
On behalf of everyone at the CCG, I hope you have the happiest and healthiest of festive periods.
Thanks for reading
Dr Aggy York, GP and Clinical Board Member