A leading GP has seen first hand progress being made to improve integration of health services in Northumberland.
Professor Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, was special guest to see Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s fully joined up ‘primary and acute care system (PACS)’.
A GP in Lincolnshire, Professor Baker visited the Northumbria Specialist Care Emergency Hospital in Cramlington to see the seven-day model of emergency care.
She also visited the state-of-the-art Morpeth NHS Centre, opened in 2013, that brings together outpatient and diagnostic services, as well as primary care, under one roof.
Professor Baker held a roundtable discussion with the clinical leaders in Northumberland who are the forefront of delivering the ambition vision for health and care services.
She said: “This is the first PACS vanguard I have visited and I was impressed with the scale of ambition and work taking place to improve the links between primary care, community and hospital services.
“There are clearly very strong relationships that exist right across the health and care system in Northumberland.This integration, along with the dedication and enthusiasm of staff, puts patients at the centre of the care that is being delivered and works to address the major challenges being faced by both GPs and hospital-based teams across the NHS. I am confident that we will continue to see great things in Northumberland.”
Dr Alistair Blair, chief clinical officer at NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It was a pleasure to welcome Professor Baker to Northumberland and to have such valuable discussions with local GPs about our vanguard programme.
“Delivering transformational change in the NHS is a difficult job and it is good to receive support and recognition from someone like Maureen who really understands the pressures and challenges being felt right across the system.
“Whilst we have made significant progress in year one of the vanguard programme, really this is only just the start.
“The new Northumbria Hospital was the vital first step in our journey and not only have we improved patient outcomes but we’ve also greatly improved the efficiency of our system.
“The next phase of work is very exciting and aims to improve access to care outside of hospital.
“Working with GPs, our focus now is on transforming primary care and building a system which supports the increase in demand we are seeing across the board for NHS services due to our aging population and people living longer.
“There is a real appetite for change and collaboration amongst all partners and together I am confident we will continue to see further improvements for patients.”
Dr Paul Paes, clinical director for the Northumberland vanguard programme and consultant in palliative care at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have very big ambitions to improve the way we deliver care for patients in Northumberland and in particular how we support and look after those patients who have very complex needs and those who may be nearing the end of life.
“It was fantastic to be able to discuss and share our thinking with Professor Baker and we would like to thank her for her time and commitment in making the trip up to Northumberland.”