Worries of reduced service under proposed healthcare changes
PUBLISHED: 05:30 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:11 03 September 2019
Concerns have been raised by Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey about the potential changes to CCGs which offer healthcare for patients living in Waveney.
What is a CCG?
A CCG is a clinical commissioning group, it assesses what local people need in terms of healthcare, then buys services from providers, which include hospitals, clinics and community health bodies.
Where do CCGs operate currently?
In Suffolk there are technically three CCGs: Ipswich and East Suffolk, West Suffolk and Great Yarmouth and Waveney, which runs over the border into Norfolk.
What is being proposed?
The current proposal is to merge the Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG with CCGs in Norfolk. This would affect patients living in areas like Southwold, Halesworth, and Reydon.
Why is it happening?
Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, which listens to patient views in the county, said: "The re-alignment of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) is a necessity because of the decreasing budgets they are required to work within. Changes at management level have already taken place, following formal employee consultations, and a further consultation is due for all other staff.
What is Therese Coffey concerned about?
Dr Coffey is worried that patients in north Suffolk will be "left behind" because services for them are being administered in a different county.
Dr Coffey said: "I have real concerns with the proposed merger being put forward by the five CCGs.
"I am concerned that this part of Suffolk may receive even less attention than it does now if this merger goes through.
"I think that our small part of Suffolk would be well down the priorities of this super CCG. I encourage everyone to respond to the consultation which closes on September 6."
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Why is she concerned?
Dr Coffey says that recent changes in Waveney have convinced her that the merger is not the right plan for the area,
"My recent experience of Great Yarmouth and Waveney is one which has let patients down in Halesworth, Southwold, Reydon and the surrounding rural area by not doing what they promised on improving care for patients before closing down the two community hospitals," said Dr Coffey.
What would be the alternative?
Dr Coffey said she is looking into a different merger which would link Waveney with Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG instead. She is currently seeking the opinion of medical professionals and representatives on the matter.
What is the CCG saying?
The chairman of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Liam Stevens said: "Our commitment to Great Yarmouth and Waveney is unequivocal and ongoing.
"We are proud of the investments and improvements in care we have put in place recently for people living in the Waveney area. This is clinically led, which means we ask local doctors and nurses to advise on the best way of providing care for their patients."
What is Healthwatch Suffolk saying?
"Healthwatch Suffolk and Healthwatch Norfolk are amongst the key stakeholders in the process of this re-alignment, giving us the opportunity to note the potential benefits and the need for the CCG's leaders to be as open and as transparent as possible with the public. Healthwatch Suffolk is naturally particularly interested in the future for Waveney residents, the majority of whom rely on services such as those provided by the James Paget Hospital.
"The CCGs have developed Local Delivery Groups, one being for the Great Yarmouth & Waveney area, in order to keep locality as a key priority.
"We believe consistency in the way of policies and practice will become an outcome of this change. Beccles will remain one of three or four centres for this new style CCG."
What happens next?
If the proposals are given the go ahead, the CCGs will submit an application to NHS England in the autumn, with the merger set to take place by the end of March 2020.
Dr Stevens added: "We echo Dr Coffey's advice for people to let us know what they think about our proposals. There further information, and also a survey which ends this Friday."
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