This is a transcript of my My View column that was published in the Doncaster Star on Monday 10 October, 2016
The NHS never stands still, it has to keep evolving and developing to keep pace with the ever changing range of healthcare needs of the patients it looks after. People like you and me.
There have been some major improvements in health in Doncaster over the past couple of decades, with cancer survivorship being a good example. Better screening, earlier diagnosis and quicker access to treatment has meant more local people than ever are taking on and beating disease.
But there is always room for improvement, and we can do that by working together better across all our local hospitals.
Historically, patients have gone to see their family doctor when they have felt unwell and more serious problems that their GP hasn’t been able to sort would prompt a referral to the local hospital to see a specialist– in our case usually Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
This approach is likely to change over the coming years as some hospitals start to become more specialist treatment centres for specific types of care.
Why’s that? Because, depending on where you live, some patients have better access to services, experiences of care and results than others, and that doesn’t seem right. One reason for this is that there is a national shortage of some specialist health care staff and hospitals are struggling to fill vacancies.
Another key factor is that doctors and nurses in some hospitals don’t see as many patients as their colleagues in neighbouring ones, which can result in them becoming less skilled.
Also, the speed at which scans and tests are carried out and reported back varies between hospitals, which can cause a delay in starting some treatments.
NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group is working with similar NHS organisations operating across South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw, Chesterfield and Wakefield to address these important issues and make better use of the resources we have. Last week we collectively launched public consultations on potential changes to two services provided by hospitals in our region:
- Hyper acute stroke services – where patients are treated in the first 72 hours after having a stroke
- Children’s surgery and anaesthesia services
After speaking with patients and the public a few months ago, options have now been put forward for the way these services are provided in the future, including two proposed favoured ones which are supported by senior clinicians.
Your views are important so please have a look at the consultation documents and let us know your thoughts by visiting www.smybndccgs.nhs.uk The consultation runs until Friday 20 January 2017, with a decision expected in February 2017.
Whatever the outcome, hospitals in our region are likely to move towards providing care for a wider geographical area – and for a bigger population – than they currently do. The aim will be to provide consistently high quality and sustainable, safe care in the future, delivered by healthcare staff who consistently utilise and maintain their high skills, often in specialist centres.