Change in our NHS
You have probably seen national news headlines around ‘A&E under threat’ or ‘secret plans for hospital closures’. These are part of something called Sustainability and Transformation Plans or STPs.
The NHS has been instructed to look at how it can look at services for the future and make them sustainable across a wide ‘footprint’ – an area that is covered by several hospitals and other NHS organisations. For us the ‘footprint’ is Greater Manchester.
The basic principle is that as our population gets older and health technology improves it should be possible for more people to get better quality care and make the most of their health. In order to do this there need to be some changes made to the way things are organised. There is also the challenge that funding for the NHS isn’t increasing as rapidly as demand for NHS services. NHS services are now able to keep people alive much longer than when the NHS was first set up (advances in cancer, heart, blood pressure treatment, etc.) which means that more people are needing to access services.
In Greater Manchester there was already work going on around these ideas. You might remember the Healthier Together consultation a couple of years ago which talked about high risk General Surgery. GM Devolution then came along and formalised as the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (http://www.gmhsc.org.uk/). This covers all the plans for Greater Manchester and is in effect our STP.
There is a legal duty to involve people in these plans and we have highlighted opportunities to have your say in our past eBulletins – in effect many Healthwatch members have already shaped some elements of the proposed changes. Healthwatch England has also been doing some work nationally to help people’s voices to be heard (http://www.healthwatch.co.uk/service-change).
What does this mean for us locally?
In Oldham the Council and NHS partners have produced a locality plan (You can download it here). This was produced following a number of public engagement sessions which the Council and local NHS organisations ran last year with our support. We have been told that there will be opportunities for the public to get more involved in the coming months.
We are not aware of plans for any A&E departments or hospitals in our area to close.
Also, the 10 Greater Manchester Healthwatch organisations are working with the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership to create a Healthwatch liaison function. This will mean that it’s easier for us to know about and co-ordinate involvement across Greater Manchester.
There will be future opportunities to get involved. We will make sure they are publicised through our eBulletin which you can join if you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know you want to receive these updates.