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2nd February 2012
This month I take on a new project, and I’m excited about getting my teeth into it. As far as I see it, the Healthier Together review is about health services in the South East Midlands working better together to get the best results for patients, and making the most of our money in the future.
I was delighted to be asked to become part of the review; because it’s a chance right from the start to influence the way local people, like me, are involved in shaping health services for the future.
At a strategic level the arguments are clear that things could be done differently in some areas, to come into line with the latest thinking in clinical practice. But what we need to do is balance any future decisions about services with the needs and aspirations of local people.
My role will be to Chair a Patient and Patient Advisory Group. The group will work closely with the newly-formed clinical and management teams, making sure that the patient voice is at the fore in all discussions. There will be patient representatives on six clinical working groups, which are looking at a range of issues from how to improve the care for people with ‘long term’ conditions (like diabetes), to developing better emergency medical cover at all five hospitals.
At the moment no decisions have been made, and indeed no decisions can be made without public consultation. In fact it is our role to shape the new proposals right from the start. And we need as many people as possible, with their different viewpoints and perspectives, to get involved.
I would strongly encourage you, if you have an interest in your local NHS and use acute hospital services in Bedfordshire, Luton, Kettering, Milton Keynes or Northampton, to find out more. This website tells you more about the project and will be updated regularly. There are also a number of meetings and roadshows scheduled if you’d like information face-to-face. You’ll be hearing from me regularly, and can contact me via the review project office with any thoughts, ambitions, reflections you have.
Steve Lowden lives locally and was Chief Executive of the national ‘health watchdog’ the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement from 2004 – 2008. The commission had a regulatory role, working with the then Healthcare Commission (now renamed the Care Quality Commission) to give citizens a voice in health-decision making throughout England.
No hospitals will close. Northampton, Kettering, Milton Keynes, Luton & Dunstable and Bedford will all continue to provide most local services
All five hospitals will have an A&E and maternity service
Our first priority is safe, sustainable, high quality services
Our recommendations will be based on clinical evidence and local need