Big boost for health care in Lowestoft and Southwold
- Credit: Archant
THE future of health care services in and around Lowestoft and Southwold will come under the spotlight in the next few months.
Health chiefs say 'exciting times' are ahead as services are brought 'up to 21st century best practice standards' and the way they are delivered changes as part of a radical reform.
HealthEast, the new NHS Clinical Commissioning Group serving Great Yarmouth and Waveney, will officially take over from primary care trusts (PCTs) from April 1.
And with GPs and health bosses now taking over the planning and management of health care for patients, a public consultation is to be launched soon, focusing on the future of NHS care in the Lowestoft area.
HealthEast, in partnership with the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (JPUH) and East Coast Community Healthcare (ECCH), is launching the consultation.
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Andrew Evans, chief executive of HealthEast, said: 'This consultation is to get public input into how we bring services in Lowestoft up to 21st century best practice standards. We have made good progress over recent years but now all of the local organisations providing health, social care and public services want to take major strides together to provide services which are fully integrated and address health and illness early and in the community.
'Stakeholders and clinicians across Yarmouth and Waveney are in agreement that we must focus on making sure the people of Lowestoft and the surrounding area have access to the very best healthcare services possible and update our existing models of care and their delivery to match the best.'
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At the heart of new developments in Lowestoft will be the £5.9m Kirkley Rise health campus.
With two practices at London Road South and Marine Parade, serving more than 10,000 patients, set to move to Kirkley Rise, Mr Evans added: 'It will be the new therapy centre for the area.'
The Journal understands that the health campus could include a minor injuries service in the future.
Next week, in the lead-up to the public consultation, the NHS will hold the first pre-consultation planning meeting on the future of health services in Lowestoft – with clinicians, key stakeholders, staff and patient/public representatives getting together.
'All the general practitioners in Lowestoft are behind this and they have told us they have been waiting for this for years,' Mr Evans said. 'The overall strategy we're talking to Lowestoft about also applies right across the CCG.'
With the public consultations likely to start in May, Dr John Stammers, a practising GP in Southwold and chairman of HealthEast, said: 'This is truly an exciting opportunity to decide how we can improve the care we offer to patients. No-one has ruled anything in and no-one has ruled anything out. We will not make any decision without fully consulting with the public and stakeholders. When we consider the options, the needs of all of our patients will be put first. I think it is a really exciting time – this is local people leading their NHS.'
Options to be discussed next week include putting different services in place to enable more patients to be treated closer to home, providing community nursing beds in a different way or maintaining the status quo.
James Paget University Hospitals' chief executive, David Hill, said: 'It is vital for the people of Lowestoft that we provide the best possible health care for the town. We are pleased to be in active discussions with all other stakeholders responsible for services in north and south Lowestoft including those provided at Lowestoft Hospital, which has been the main service for many years.'