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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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“Challenging year” for Cumbria doctors, health meeting told

ISSUES around quality, finance and recruitment have contributed to a “challenging” year for top doctors charged with organising healthcare services in Cumbria.

That was the message at the first annual general meeting of Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, held at The Forum in Barrow on Wednesday.

The county’s GPs took over the job of deciding how health services should be provided, where and by whom, in April 2013 and have already had to face a wide range of historical problems head on.

These included issues with the quality of local healthcare, including the ongoing Morecambe Bay Investigation into deaths relating to maternity services at Furness General Hospital, as well as the recent Care Quality Commission report which saw the trust responsible for running FGH placed into special measures.

Efforts have also had to be made to curtail overspending on the county’s NHS services and plans laid out to address long-standing problems with attracting top-level healthcare professionals to the county.

But CCG chairman, Dr Hugh Reeve described how more joined-up working across the healthcare system means NHS organisations are finally in a position to tackle these issues.

He said: “It’s been a really positive 18 months building those relationships. There’s a real commitment to work together.”

Dr Reeve also shared a range of achievements from each of the county’s locality teams within their first year of working.

In Copeland, this included a new scheme aimed at identifying older people at risk of harm and preventing them becoming more ill.

For South Lakeland, there has been a significant focus on supporting nursing and residential homes to help provide more intensive care in the community.

And in Furness, there has been the major project to buy the former Alfred Barrow School site with a view to transforming it into a health and social care “super surgery”.

Dr Reeve said: “That is going to be a fantastic facility, we’re really excited about it.

“A lot of this is focused on what’s going on in the community rather than in hospitals, and that shows the direction we’re going in.”

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