£89m boost for healthcare in Lancashire

Man having his blood pressure taken
Man having his blood pressure taken
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A multi-million pound vision billed as a ‘game changer’ for the future of health and social care services in Lancashire has been unveiled.

The Lancashire Better Care Fund plan aims to overhaul services and the way they are delivered across the county. The £89m plan will see changes and improvements made with the key areas including:

• Setting up neighbourhood teams and joining up services;

• Reducing length of stay in hospital;

• Moving services from the hospital into the community;

• Working closer with voluntary sector organisations;

• Focusing on services for the frail and elderly and those with long-term conditions and complex needs.

The scheme was announced nationally in June 2013, and each authority is drawing up its own plans. In Lancashire, the ideas have been produced jointly by Lancashire County Council and the NHS clinical commissioning groups.

It is being implemented to tackle factors including an increase in demand for services, an ageing population, financial constraints and widening health and social inequalities.

Other improvements in the plan include proactively identifying people at risk of crisis to coordinate their care, providing them with appointments closer to home, enabling faster recovery from a hospital admission, and improving administration systems, so people don’t have to keep filling in forms.

The plan has been put together by Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Board, a forum made up of organisations involved in improving people’s health and wellbeing across the county.

And it highlights how Lancashire County Council, NHS England, NHS clinical commissioning groups, district councils and other organisations will work together to provide better services.

There are key improvements for the whole of Lancashire, and then individual aims for each district.

Dr Ann Bowman, a local GP and vice-chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board, and chairwoman of NHS Greater Preston Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “In Chorley, South Ribble and Greater Preston, we are committed to improving health outcomes for patients, and to ensuring they always have an excellent experience of care.

“We will do this by making sure patients are cared for in a much more co-ordinated and consistent way, and that care is arranged in a way that best suits their needs, whether this is by making it closer to their home, making more services available in the community, or by improving communications and information.”

Dr Gora Bangi, chairman of Chorley and South Ribble Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “Some of the ways we plan to use the Better Care Fund in our areas involve placing GPs more fully at the centre of organising and co-ordinating care, setting up new services for the frail elderly and for patients with long-term conditions, establishing single points of access to urgent care services, and facilitating better data sharing between health and social care providers.”

County Coun Azhar Ali, chairman of Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Board, added: “The Better Care Fund plans will lead to real improvements for residents with complex health needs.

“Measures like improving training for staff to help prevent people going to hospital, doing more work to identify those at risk of deteriorating health, and focusing on the frail and elderly will lead to big improvements in people’s health.

“Providing more coordinated care to cater for people’s specific needs is also an important part of the plans.

“These measures will avoid people getting into crisis situations, provide better quality services and improve value for money by making services more efficient.

“Because each area faces different challenges, the plan sets out some specific priorities for each part of Lancashire.”

The Better Care Fund will come into effect from 2015.