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The vital signs are good

User AvatarPosted by Bobbie Walkem-Smith at 17/04/2014 12:53:11
Navin Kumta

As Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) around the country mark their first year in charge of local healthcare, Dr Navin Kumta – Chair of NHS Ashford CCG, shares his views...

This month marks the first anniversary of NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group. One year on, the vital signs are good.

As the organisation responsible for planning and buying most healthcare services for people in Ashford and surrounding areas, we’ve certainly had a busy year. I’m pleased to say that the majority of our patients – that’s around 125,000 people – have good health. We are proud of this, but we know we need to continue working hard to provide people with the best possible experience of using local health services.

Looking back, one of the highlights has been winning a national award for our geriatrician project which re-designed care for people in residential and nursing homes.

It means that if people become unwell they can be seen, assessed and treated for the majority of illnesses in the home where they live, with support from Kent Community Health NHS Trust matrons and, when necessary, consultants based at William Harvey Hospital. They will only go to hospital when absolutely necessary. This is much better for patients and also saves public money. 

Good progress has been made on improving local dementia services. There are possibly hundreds of people living in the area with dementia who are yet to have a formal diagnosis. To change this, GP practices are getting more support from specialist mental health practitioners and are using dementia checklists to assess patients, while some practices are trialling an online memory assessment tool. Recent data suggest that diagnosis rates are on the up.

Work is also underway with partners, such as Kent County Council, to help make Ashford more dementia-friendly so people with memory problems are supported to feel safe in their local community.

Likewise we are pleased with the progress we are making on mental health. We held an event with local people in January to understand which services work well and what we need to try and improve. This was invaluable in helping us understand where we need to focus our efforts. Over the coming year we will be making improvements to services for people of all ages with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), eating disorders, and personality disorders.

There are certainly challenges to come – especially with tight budgets and the need to integrate health and social care over the next couple of years (known as the Better Care Fund).

But no matter what, one thing remains constant – our commitment to realising our vision of a ‘Healthcare Partnership to be proud of’. To achieve this vision we will need to continue working closely with colleagues in the council, provider organisations and the community and voluntary sector. And of course, with you, our patients.

With this in mind, I’d like to finish with a plea. Your feedback – good or bad – is crucial in helping us make changes for the better. So please, if you have an experience or idea relating to healthcare that you would like to share, visit our website for details of how to get in touch.

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