MEDICAL chiefs believe there is no better time for patients to have an influence in helping to preserve and maintain quality NHS services across the region after the introduction of Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Four CCGs took over the management of healthcare services from Derbyshire’s two primary care trusts this month and North Derbyshire and Hardwick CCGs stressed how GPs and patient participation groups will be able to provide direct input as CCGs prepare to manage, plan and purchase health service providers.
Dr Ben Milton, chairman of North Derbyshire CCG, and Dr Steve Lloyd, chairman of Hardwick CCG, explained the new structure has been introduced to provide more clinically-led management with support from GPs, patients and local authorities acting in partnership.
Dr Lloyd said: “It’s an exciting time. There is clinical input from GPs and nurses and all CCGs have strong patient participation groups and networks and these are the people who will inform and guide us.
“There is an opportunity for every GP to come forward with ideas and our patients are at the centre of everything we do so we welcome further patient input and participation. There has never been a better time for patients to be more directly involved.”
Dr Lloyd and Dr Milton explained the new structure, with North Derbyshire and Hardwick CCGs based at Nightingale Close, Chesterfield, aims to break down boundaries between GPs, health carers, patients and the managing body.
The Coalition Government has replaced PCTs with CCGs to commission health care as part of NHS reforms to provide a more efficient and cost-effective system and to encourage greater involvment from the private sector and charities.
North Derbyshire’s 38 Degrees campaign group has urged the newly formed CCGs to protect the NHS from privatisation over fears CCGs may begin commissioning too many services to private providers, cut services and force patients to pay for certain types of care or leave them without treatment.
However, Dr Milton explained the NHS is no different to any other group and it has to put things out to tender but there is no plan to privatise the NHS.
He said: “What clinical leadership brings if anything is a focus on clinical quality rather than costs. Derbyshire is very strong in NHS service providers and there is no reason for that to change. We’re focusing on improving quality. We’re not financially driven but we still have to break even.”
Dr Lloyd said CCGs are “patient advocates of the NHS” and they do not have any hidden agenda.
The introduction of CCGs for North Derbyshire, Hardwick, Erewash and Southern Derbyshire, has gone smoothly with former PCT jobs secured and Derbyshire is the only county in the East Midlands where all of the four CCGs have been awarded a 100per cent assessment rating for their plans, progress and credentials by NHS England.
During hard economic times and with an ever-ageing population, Dr Milton explained there have had to be changes but he is confident the new clinically-led NHS CCG structure is better-equipped to maintain and provide quality services.
He added: “Derbyshire PCT was doing a fantastic job and has given us a great foundation, but the feeling nationally was that there could be a better job done with more clinical input. Prior to this month’s official hand over, we’ve already delivered a year of over-performance despite budgetary challenges and everything bodes well and we’re in a good position.”
Services managed under CCGs include planned and emergency hospital care, rehabilitation, most community health, mental health and learning disability services.
For further details about the North Derbyshire and Hardwick CCGs visit www.northderbyshireccg.nhs.uk and www.hardwickccg.nhs.uk.