This is a nostalgic moment for me as it’s my last ‘My View’ column as Chair of NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
What started off as a one-off editorial contribution quickly progressed into a weekly collection of my thoughts. Such is the magnitude of the NHS, and its importance to all of us, that I have never been short of topics to write about when it comes to health related matters in Doncaster.
I became Chair shortly after the Government handed over responsibility for organising, buying and monitoring NHS services to local GPs. It has been an honour and privilege to carry out this role and the highlight of my career to date. But after three years at the helm I am this week handing over to my successor – Bentley GP Dr David Crichton – with my best wishes.
I thought I would sign-off by reflecting on some of my memories, together with a bit of crystal ball gazing into the future.
As a southerner who has made Doncaster his home, I am proud of the health improvements the CCG has driven forward across the borough with the help of innumerable health colleagues. Changes to cancer care have saved more than 400 local lives; Woodfield 24, a special care service for those nearing the end of their life, is enabling local people to die at home with dignity, in contrast to what is happening in many other areas of the country; and we’re taking great strides to reduce waiting lists for specialist children’s care, such as ADHD.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg; there’s much more happening as we strive to improve the general health of Doncaster people.
Health improvements are the result of good teamwork and I’ve worked with a great team of people at the CCG. We’ve tried to create an open organisation that values criticism as much as praise, and listens to patients and learns from what it hears.
NHS managers are often on the receiving end of unfair criticism in my opinion. They work closely with clinicians to help transform services, turning ideas into reality for the benefit of Doncaster people. A highlight for me has been working closely with the CCG’s recently retired Chief Officer, Chris Stainforth, who had a passion for making services better and whose legacy will continue through his able successor, Jackie Pederson.
Looking forward, there are many challenges facing the NHS in Doncaster. The local hospital trust has a massive financial deficit to overcome and pressures on the borough’s NHS budget won’t get any easier. We need to do more to prevent people from becoming ill in the first place, whilst continuing to deliver services of the best possible quality. Thankfully we have the people and skills to solve the problems, though it won’t be an easy task.
I will continue to be actively involved, both as a local GP and by helping to develop better health services for Doncaster people.