The holiday period has ended and the schools are back in the swing of things. We have had a series of meetings to explain our plans for the rest of the year and beyond. It’s also been a great opportunity to get comments and suggestions from people about how best to use our resources to make a difference and improve services.
We had a Governing Body meeting in public on September 3rd. Dr Penny Morris talked about the work we are doing to try and give people whose needs are quite complex, care which is integrated rather than fragmented. This means there is one care plan, owned by the person and used by doctors, nurses, social care staff; and indeed anyone who is involved in supporting that individual. Dr Morris gave some great examples of patients who had benefitted from this way of working which highlighted the impact of people having good support to manage their health problems.
Dr Morris repeated her talk at the Darwen meeting of the Patients in Partnership group which is a gathering of representatives from individual practice patient participation groups. I had hoped that these would match the four local groupings of practices that we have established but feedback from Blackburn seems to favour one rather than three meetings in the town.
Our AGM was held in the town library, on the same day that representatives from voluntary organisations and community groups held a very successful Health EXPO in the Cathedral. The latter was very well attended and some interesting ideas emerged about the opportunities for working in a different way with commissioners exploring how more partnerships could be formed with the wide variety of organisations which comprise the third sector.
The AGM, part of which was recorded and will be available on the website soon, gave us an opportunity to talk about the work we did in 2013/14 and outline our plans for the current year and beyond. We also had a presentation about the plans for a new in patient facility for people with poor mental health, to be built between our offices and the hospital site. The event ended with an interactive section which allowed everyone to assess how well they knew the scale of the poor health in BwD and then to rate how effective they thought our plans would be in reducing inequality and improving health. View the feedback here.
The initiatives we are currently undertaking are set out in detail in our Better Care Fund document drawn up jointly with colleagues from the Council and commented on by our main providers. The content of our submission was agreed by the Health and Wellbeing Board and is available on the Council’s website along with other papers presented for discussion at the meeting on September 22nd. A presentation was made about the development of partnership working in localities The board was provided with an example of information which will be available about each of the four localities. These ‘stories’ about these parts of our town will develop over the next six months but already provide useful information to help us try and improve the health and well-being of people. For example in the north Blackburn area, population almost 24,000, we learn that almost one in five households (around 1400) no one in the household speaks English whereas in Darwen, population over 34,000 there are 192 households where this is the case. In Darwen almost 1 in 6 residents are aged 65 or older whereas in North Blackburn this figure is a little more than 1 in 10. It follows therefore that one size does not fit all and services and services need to be flexible to best meet the needs of the people in the locality.
However whilst thinking of the geography of the area we work in we also recognise that in some instances we need to look beyond the boundary of the borough to East Lancashire and the rest of Lancashire.
With this in mind I also attended the AGMs of the East Lancashire CCG as we work closely with them. Their annual report covers the same range of issues as ours. They are the lead commissioner for services provided by the East Lancashire Hospital trust. The hospital used their AGM as a chance to exhibit and publicise many of their service. It was very well attended with over 100 people, many of them students from Burnley and Blackburn, who listened to the Chair and Chief executive present their report. When questions were invited I was able to help with the answers as one was about mental health services, which we commission and another about access to GPs which again is not something over which the hospital has any control.
It brings home the need for us in the NHS to realise that the way the organisation works is of little interest to the public and when we are pursuing integration it needs to be within the NHS as well as with social care and other partners.