East Sussex’s MP have quizzed health bosses on plans to transform NHS services in the county.
The Government has tasked 44 areas, one of which is the entirety of Sussex and East Surrey, across the country to produce Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) to deliver changes needed to save billions of pounds over the next few years.
Within this STP footprint area the organisations across Hastings, Rother, Eastbourne, Hailsham, and Seaford will be developing strategies to improve healthcare through the existing East Sussex Better Together programme.
Eastbourne’s MP Caroline Ansell, Huw Merriman, Bexhill and Battle MP, and Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd visited Conquest Hospital in Hastings last week to meet with leaders from the CCGs, East Sussex County Council, and East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (ESHT) to discuss their new approach to healthcare delivery.
The MPs were keen to find out how the area’s hospitals are positioned as the winter months approach and the partnership of East Sussex’s integrated acute and primary healthcare with social care delivery.
Ms Ansell said: “Integrating health and social care is squarely in the best interests of patients and I welcome the innovations discussed at the meeting, a meeting which also afforded me the opportunity to raise questions from Eastbourne on the current strategic transformation plans and reconfigured services.”
Mr Merriman added: “There has been much talk in the national media about NHS sustainability and transformation plans and the resultant impact on the health service.
“It is refreshing that our local NHS leaders are enabling our primary and social care services to work better together to not only find efficiencies which can be recycled back in to the local health and care services but also deliver an integrated adult social care and clinical care service.
“This can only benefit patients and be more rewarding for the staff in the health service who do so much for us locally.”
Ms Rudd added: “I am delighted to hear that the East Sussex Better Together programme now being implemented by our local NHS leaders is combining adult social care with clinical care to deliver the best possible health outcomes for patients.”
Local health leaders attending the meeting were Amanda Philpott, chief officer, and David Warden, chairman of the Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group; David Walker, medical director, and Catherine Ashton, director of strategy at ESHT; Keith Glazier, leader of the county council; and Keith Hinkley, director of adult social care and health at East Sussex County Council.
The MPs heard how the East Sussex Better Together programme had already implemented a number of improvements including a single point for health professionals to access support, integrated social and community care under one management structure, a frailty practitioner service for over-75s, and the creation of prevention teams together for high-risk members of our community.
Earlier this month the county council’s Cabinet agreed to progress work on an accountable model of care for the area covered by the East Sussex Better Together partnership, with a year of transition in 2017/18.
The model involves integrating health systems, and the formation of a new commissioner provider alliance to collectively manage the health and social care system in East Sussex.
Officers described the model as ‘ground-breaking’, while several county councillors warned of a ‘looming disaster’ in the health service if changes were not made.
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