SWL health commissioners plan five-year strategy

The governing bodies of the six south west London Clinical Commissioning Groups have all backed proposals put forward in February that they should work in partnership with each other and NHS England to resolve the challenges faced by the local NHS.

The six CCGs* and NHS England (who are responsible for commissioning specialised services and primary care in south west London) will work together as South West London Collaborative Commissioning. They are developing a five-year strategy for local health services which has to be drawn up by June in response to NHS England’s Call to Action.

The six governing bodies met in public during March and April and supported proposals put forward by their GP Chairs earlier this year to close the Better Services Better Value programme and replace it with a ‘whole system’ approach which will consider mental health, community services and primary care as well as hospitals.

Local clinicians will be involved through seven ‘clinical design groups’, which will cover the following areas:

  • Children’s services
  • Integrated Care
  • Maternity
  • Mental Health
  • Planned Care
  • Transforming Primary Care
  • Urgent and emergency care

These seven clinical design groups will report to a Strategic Commissioning Board, made up of two representatives from each CCG and NHS England, two lay representatives and two local authority officers (one chief executive and one director of adult social services). The governance structure for the new South West London Collaborative Commissioning programme is available on the programme website, www.swlondon.nhs.uk

Dr Howard Freeman, Chair of Merton Clinical Commissioning Group and of the Strategic Commissioning Board, said:

“This is a new programme, a new joint approach in which we will work together to try to tackle the many challenges faced by the local NHS.

“We need to change the way we deliver healthcare to suit the changing needs of our patients – meaning better services in the community, in mental health, in hospitals and in primary care. We believe that the best way to achieve this is everyone working together, integrating services where we can and helping different parts of the system to work better together.

“We are already working with local authorities on the Better Care Fund, a national initiative which aims for better integration between NHS and social care services. Funding will move from hospitals to local community services over the next two years, based on the implementation of each CCG’s local plans to deliver more care outside of hospitals.

“Our priority as commissioners is to commission high quality healthcare for our patients and for services to be built around their needs. For example, we will expect local hospitals to meet the minimum safety and quality requirements set out by the London Quality Standards** and to provide seven-day, consultant-delivered services in key areas such as emergency care, maternity and children’s services. We will expect mental health, community and primary care services to meet the highest standards.

“We have a clear picture of future patient needs, workforce availability, finances and the quality of care we need to deliver. We are already working on a high-level strategy which is due in June. This strategy will set out the direction of travel – it is not likely to contain specific proposals for specific NHS trusts or hospitals, as we will need to work with partners such as local provider trusts on the detail. What we want to do is to develop a plan that is owned and supported by the whole of the local NHS, as well as our local authority partners.

“Local people have helped our thinking by responding to our local engagement programmes on the Call to Action and we hope to continue that conversation as we develop and move towards implementation of our strategy. We will involve local Healthwatch organisations, voluntary sector bodies and patient representatives in the governance of the programme, to make sure that we are engaging fully and properly with local people.”

The five-year strategy will need to address a number of serious challenges:

  • The population is ageing and up to a third of people are living with long term conditions, meaning we need to provide more and better care out of hospital and closer to where people live
  • We need health and social care services to work together much better – nationally, the Better Care Fund has been set up to achieve this and it means money is being moved from CCG budgets for hospital care to local community services – each CCG has a two-year plan for this
  • None of our hospitals meet all the minimum safety and quality standards set out by clinicians based on Royal College guidance – the London Quality Standards – and there is a variation in the quality of care between different hospitals and different times of the day, week and year
  •  Hospitals are expected to provide seven-day services with the required level of consultant cover at all times, but we do not currently provide this in south west London and there are not enough consultants available to do so across our four acute hospitals
  • The NHS is unlikely to be given extra money in the foreseeable future, yet the costs of providing healthcare are rising much faster than the rate of inflation, meaning we face significant financial challenges
  • We need to reshape mental health services so that they achieve the highest possible standards and are focused primarily in the community
  • We need to ensure that primary care and other community-based services meet the highest possible standards
  • We need to do more to prevent people becoming ill and to provide better information to patients about where to get help when.

For further information, contact:

Rory Hegarty: 020 3458 5926/ 07850 984634

Alicia O’Donnell-Smith: 020 8544 6180 / 07920 082959 

Notes to editors

*The six CCGs are Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth.

** The London Quality Standards (LQS) set out what good care should look like and they were developed to ensure that all hospital-based acute emergency and maternity services provide care that is safe and of consistently high quality for patients across London, seven days a week. They were developed by clinicians and patients and are based on existing evidence-based standards from Royal Colleges, the College of Emergency Medicine and other professional bodies. They were endorsed by the London Clinical Senate and the London Clinical Commissioning Council.

The LQS cover adult acute medicine and emergency general surgery, emergency departments, critical care, a common form of hip fracture (fractured neck of femur), paediatric emergency services (medicine and surgery) and maternity services (labour, birth and immediate postnatal care).