Calls for major change for health and care in Lincolnshire – July 2016

Calls for major change for health and care in Lincolnshire

Health and care professionals are calling for action now to address the challenges in the health and care system in Lincolnshire.

A report out today states that our health and care system is spending £60 million more a year than it receives in funding and income.

The growing demand for health and care services, coupled with a system that focuses on hospital care, has led to a situation where services are struggling to deliver consistent, high quality care.

The Lincolnshire Health and Care (LHAC) programme is calling for action to address these challenges to prevent the county’s deficit increasing to approximately £300 million by 2021.

Some of the problems with the current system cannot be fixed by a bigger budget, for instance more funding would not deal with the challenges in recruiting professionals into key health and care roles, including nurses, GPs, radiologists, paediatricians and other professionals.  Although staff work hard to provide good quality care, there are problems with cancelled operations, delays in getting appointments, poor communication and a lack of joined up care.

Lincolnshire, in common with the rest of the country, is required to submit a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) to government, setting out how it will address the financial challenges and improve the quality of care for patients.

Lincolnshire Health and Care is a partnership of 13 health and care organisations across the county working together to find ways of transforming services.  Proposals mentioned in today’s report include providing more care out of hospital with teams of health and care professionals that work together with the patient to deliver better care.

Some of the emerging ideas are likely to involve changing where some services are delivered, including potentially bringing together some specialist services onto one single site.  This may mean that patients will have to travel further to access certain services but will receive a more consistent, good quality care as a result.  The recent heart centre at Lincoln County Hospital is an example of where this has already worked effectively in the county, with survival rates for heart attacks now among the best in the country.

Other ideas to deal with some of the challenges include using technology to share patient records and help to reduce the need for face to face appointments where they are not necessary.

Allan Kitt, Chief Officer for Lincolnshire South West CCG, and the LHAC programme said: “We all believe very strongly that the people of Lincolnshire deserve the best care we can give them.  We appreciate that at some times change causes uncertainty, and in some cases anxiety, but if we are really to deliver on this ambition we must accept that some of the services now will have to change radically.  We want to engage the people of Lincolnshire and professionals so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to our plan and share in our vision for health and care in the county.”

Dr Sunil Hindocha, Chief Clinical Officer at Lincolnshire West CCG, said: “What we know is if we carry on doing things in the manner we are then Lincolnshire’s healthcare system is simply not sustainable. It is clear we are not getting the best for our population under the current configuration.  We appreciate there is a level of uncertainty around this but it is essential members of the public understand why we must change the way we deliver care.  Everyone within Lincolnshire Health and Care has come together and worked hard to put forward options ahead of public consultation. We look forward to hearing people’s views.”

Dr Suneil Kapadia, Medical Director of United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, has said, “I welcome the publication of this document. It’s important that the public understands the reasons why services need to change but to change them for the better.  We have hard working, skilled and caring staff at our hospitals, but the trouble is we don’t have enough staff to run all services at all hospitals. To overcome this, we need to radically transform how we provide services. We want to provide local services wherever possible and centralise services onto fewer sites when necessary. In the future this may mean that those who need treatment will get the best care, but not necessarily at their nearest hospital”.

Today’s report provides an update on the LHAC proposals and comes in advance of a full public consultation expected before the end of the year.

See LHAC Case for Change 2016 for the full report.