Residents encouraged to take interest in future of healthcare services

DO you use local healthcare services? May you one day need them? Do you know someone using them? Do you work in one of them?

LymeForward is encouraging residents in the Lyme Regis area to take a close interest in healthcare services, as Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will be deciding over the next few months how these services will be provided in the local area after January 31st next year.

That’s the expiry date of the contract covering all medical services at Lyme Regis Medical Centre, and community health services for everyone registered at any of the three GP surgeries in Lyme and Charmouth.

The contract is currently held by Virgin Care and the CCG is expected to offer a new contract, for which any recognised health provider may bid.

Chris Boothroyd of LymeForward commented: “We might imagine that health and care needs are the only factor, but in reality powerful financial and commercial forces are at work too.

“The NHS Constitution gives us all ‘the right to be involved in the planning of healthcare services, the development of proposals for change, and in decisions affecting the operation of those services.’ Fine words: but in practice those rights won’t be granted unless we demand them. So knowing what’s going on, and being eternally vigilant, is essential.

“For the last nine months the active team of volunteers in LymeForward’s Health and Wellbeing Group has been preparing three submissions to the CCG: a detailed collection of facts about how services are provided now; an 18-point analysis of gaps and weaknesses; and a 15-point set of ideas about ways of improving services when the contract is re-tendered.”

These three documents can be found at www.lymeforward.com by clicking the quick link to ‘Health & Wellbeing News’.

Mr Boothroyd continued: “Among those 15 recommendations are the need to retain and develop as many services as possible within the Lyme area; to keep provision and contracting simple, coherent and integrated; to deal with the often-irrational barriers to seamless care across the Dorset/Devon border; to face up to the transport conditions that so often make it difficult to access essential services; to recognise some serious under-resourcing; and to prioritise improvements in provision for mental health conditions, young families, the frail elderly, and hospital discharge.

“Lots of registered patients have contributed ideas, as have many of the excellent professionals who work in health and care. The documents were given to the CCG at a meeting in late January. So what next?

“The CCG has promised continuing discussion with LymeForward and Patient Participation Groups, as well as ‘public engagement’, while it develops the detail of the new contract over the next few months.

“With your help, LymeForward’s group will hold the CCG to this, and will use Lyme-online, the LymeForward website and whatever other means are available to make developments public.

“Meanwhile, public understanding, and a readiness to give voice to any concerns, is essential. Please keep alert for news. A member of the LymeForward group will meet with any local group that wishes to find out more.”

If you have questions or suggestions, email chris@lymeforward.co.uk or phone 01297 442237.

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