Future plan for Norwich’s health services revealed
Norwich's urban population has markedly different health needs to the rest of Norfolk.
The health and wellbeing of people in the city is significantly lower than average in 10 categories: deprivation, children in poverty, GCSE achievement, violent crime, long-term unemployment, low levels of physical activity in children and adults, teenage pregnancy, hospital stays for self-harm, drug misuse and early deaths from cancer.
Only one of those is shared with the rest of Norfolk, which is why priorities are being drawn up to tackle the city's own particular problems.
As part of the NHS reforms, Norwich now has its own Clinical Commissioning Group, which will be responsible for designing, planning and buying health in the city from next April.
Norwich CCG, as it is called, covers the Greater Norwich area and has set up four clinical action teams to focus on four areas its sees as priorities - children and families, older people, planned care and urgent care.
But the group wants to hear from the public about their views on the plans, and how best to achieve those aims.
Dr Cath Robinson, co-chairman of NHS Norwich CCG said: 'There is much we would like to do to help people stay healthier and improve NHS services for our patients in the Norwich area. We cannot change everything at once so we need to work out what our priorities should be.
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'We have worked very closely with a very large number of interested groups including patients and local politicians to draw up our proposals and we now set these before the public. We want to listen to their views and make sure our plans are right.'
Helping older people to stay safe and well at home rather than need to go to hospital and reducing childhood obesity are two priorities.
Other key work will include reducing emergency admissions by helping people to better understand what alternative care is available, and encouraging people to be more healthy.
For example, one initiative being tried out is to offer Slimming World vouchers to encourage people to lead a healthier lifestyle.
It is also proposing to work with Active Norfolk to develop a physical activity programme and plans to work closely with East Anglia's Children's Hospices to provide intravenous therapy for children in the community rather than in hospital.
Dr Robinson said: 'Some of the things we can do don't necessarily mean spending a lot of money. Physical activity doesn't cost very much.
'When you think about how much acute (hospital) care costs and how much emergency care costs then this costs nothing compared to that.'
While it can take a long time to reap the benefits of preventative work like this, the CCG is confident it has identified some areas which it can turn around quickly.
Other problems it acknowledges it cannot tackle on its own, such as deprivation, poor education and unemployment, which is why is it hoping to act as a strong advocate in the city to influence other organisations to make positive decisions on policies which could affect health and to work with them in partnership.
Dr Robinson said: 'We are focused on Norwich and Greater Norwich. The charts show that Norwich is starkly different to the rest of Norfolk and we want to focus on what matters to the city, because that isn't necessarily what is important for the rest of Norfolk.
'But there's no way we can do this on our own, and we need the public and patients to be there with us to do that.
'We would like them to help give us their views on how we achieve this and we want to help people to keep themselves healthy.'
What is NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group?
NHS Norwich CCG is made up of professionals, including doctors and nurses, from 23 local GP practices. Its aim is to make sure that the best possible health services exist for the 206,000 people living here and for those visiting.
Over the coming year, it will gradually take on more of the duties carried out by NHS Norfolk and Waveney, the primary care trust, before the PCT is dissolved in March 2013. The CCG will then become responsible for planning and buying health services for its population, including hospital beds, community nursing, health and mental health services.
NHS Norwich CCG is setting up a Community Involvement Panel, working with the Local Involvement Network (LINk), producing regular patient newsletters, working with its GP member practices to set up and strengthen Patient Participation Groups and working with the Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People to train a number of 'community champions'.
The NHS Norwich CCG consultation document can be found at http://www.norwichccg.nhs.uk/userfiles/image/Documents/NHS_CCG_consultation_document_June_2012_-_September_2012.pdf
It will also be available in libraries and in GP surgeries.
Or write to Laura McCartney-Gray at FREEPOST RSUL-UGLK-JJRA, CCGS Norfolk & Waveney, 1 Common Lane North, Beccles NR34 9BN. Altnernatively, telephone 01603 751638 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The four key questions being asked in the public consultation are:
• How can we help older people stay well, independent, and living in their own homes?
• How can we encourage people to care for their own health and make healthy choices?
• How can we help people to make better choices about using health services, such as A&E, GP or community pharmacy?
• How do you want to be involved with the CCG, to help improve health services in the Norwich area?