A new way of providing GP services and community health care to Sleaford has been outlined by a health official to councillors.
Town Councillors received an update on the latest proposals by Diane Hansen, Head of Engagement and Inclusion at South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which represents GPs allocating funding for hospital and care services for patients in the Sleaford area.
She was explaining the ongoing consultation process of the Lincolnshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan which has been drawn up to meet the medical and financial challenges of a growing, and aging population in the county. It has involved discussions and taking on views of 20,000 people - clinicians and patients, as well as the voluntary and charity sector.
Mrs Hansen said: “We found around the county there is a difference in access to services and quality. We also struggle for a skilled workforce while there are a lot of GPs getting towards retirement age. There are more services that could be delivered closer to home and for once, the STP has made us look at the system and join those services up and integrate them.”
She said it was not about closing hospitals down, it was about making sure patients get good quality specialist care, even if it means travelling further, but at the same time patients often felt they had nowhere else to turn but to turn up at A&E.
She said: “In a nutshell, we have a five-year plan to make sure that the hospitals are there to look after the really sick people. Those that don’t need to go then they are looked after at home and cared for by services within the community. If people do go into hospital we can get them out again and back into the community quickly.”
She said there has been a trial community care system in Gainsborough where all health services are working out of a central hub to prevent people having to go to hospital, helping people take better care of themselves while also getting the support they need once out of hospital.
A similar primary care hub is proposed to be replicated in Grantham and Sleaford using community hospital sites and larger primary care buildings, such as the one in Navenby and in areas of significant housing growth like Sleaford. This expands on the minor injuries and illness centre projects being run out of Sleaford Medical Group, enabling GPs and nurses to see to many minor cases. It would provide diagnostic support such as x-rays and tests and outpatient facilities.
GP surgeries will work in larger groups to provide this wider range of services coordinating pharmacists, physiotherapists, doctors and nurses, offering better access to appointments. Expected delivery for this is within the next two years.
To back this system up would be neighbourhood teams based in Grantham and Sleaford, combining physical and mental health, health and social care, removing the need for patients to have to repeat their symptoms at numerous visits and offering a joined-up approach.
As well as a 24-hour phone service for patients to talk to a clinician, a new computer system would access all relevant medical and mental health records and test results for a patient at once to ensure a full picture when diagnosing.
Mrs Hansen added that they were also working to make Grantham Hospital urgent care services more sustainable. By 2021 all plans are expected to be in place to have more, and better integrated, care out of hospital in the community.