Q & A: North Somerset CCG placed in special measures. But what does it mean?

PUBLISHED: 10:03 01 August 2016 | UPDATED: 10:11 01 August 2016

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A group which organises health care across North Somerset has been rated 'inadequate' by NHS England and placed into special measures, but it promises healthcare in Weston is a 'priority'.

The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will now be closely monitored by NHS England and will be given instructions on how to improve.

North Somerset CCG is responsible for planning and introducing healthcare services in the district.

It has been rated inadequate by NHS England which has introduced a new rating system and is taking action to improve trusts across the country which are struggling financially.

The Mercury asked the CCG a number of questions to find out what it actually means for North Somerset.

How much has the CCG’s lack of finances had an impact on it being rated ‘inadequate’?

This rating relates to specific concerns surrounding the CCGs’ financial position, performance challenges at our local acute trusts and the ongoing management of sustainability issues at Weston Area Health Trust.

Like many health and care organisations across the UK, North Somerset CCG is facing significant financial pressure; this was noted by NHS England and is an ongoing issue due to inherited deficit and growing demand for services from our population.

The solution lies within our ability to transform services in North Somerset working closely with all our partners to develop whole system solutions; locally we have established a North Somerset Transformation Board to oversee our transformation programme and we are also working with partners across Bristol and South Gloucestershire at system wide transformation where commonalities to develop a system wide approach to delivering health and social care exist.

Is the NHS’ intervention key to moving forward in North Somerset?

We have been working in a challenging landscape for a number of years and welcome this opportunity to work together with NHS England and our partners to deliver the transformational change required for our local health system.

We are not sure at present what the intervention will mean and we are waiting for NHS England to outline a range of directions that we will need to follow.

We will then be working closely with both NHS England and our partners to find the long term solutions necessary to continue delivering the best quality care for the population of North Somerset.

What does the term ‘special measures’ mean to the people of North Somerset?

It means that North Somerset has work to do before we meet the requirements of the new assessment framework set out by NHS England, which was introduced this year.

We need to make improvements to the performance of key services like A&E and have robust, achievable plans to improve the financial position of the CCG.

We are now waiting to receive Directions from NHS England that relate to the special measures, we anticipate getting these in a week or two.

We can then start working through the implications of the Directions and what this means.

How is North Somerset looking to move forward after this announcement?

We already work closely with partners across Bristol and South Gloucestershire and believe the solution lies in working smarter; by transforming services and the way they are delivered.

Working collaboratively with our partners in the health and social care system we can address these long-standing issues through increased economies of scale.

Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are already working together to tackle some of these issues as one of the 44 national Sustainability and Transformation plan (STP) footprints.

The sustainability and transformation plan will look at how we can deliver the aims of the five year forward view locally.

How key will the partnership with neighbouring CCGs be to improving the service?

The partnership with local CCGs – and other health and social care partners – is critical.

North Somerset patients are significant users of health care services in Bristol at UHB and NBT as well as other hospital providers.

Changes to one part of the system will have an impact on other parts so our plans must be considered across the wider ‘footprint’ of the Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset communities.

It is important we work jointly to produce a plan for service change – we call it transformation – that ensures the right outcomes for patients at the best price.

This means services – and organisations - in the future can be sustainable.

At what stage is the partnership at, in terms of moving forward?

We already work closely with our partners across Bristol and South Gloucestershire to make the best use of the resources we have available to us, and are working towards a more joined up management and commission structure across BNSSG.

However the CCGs have not yet (July 25) received the detail of the Directions that relate to the special measures. We anticipate receiving more detail within one or two weeks and will then begin to work through the implications of the Directions.

Weston MP John Penrose has his concerns about this arrangement.

He said: “I’m afraid it’s no surprise that local health finances are under strain. We’ve made progress over years of campaigning for North Somerset to get a better deal but there’s still plenty more to do.

“I hope these special measures will help us move another step in the right direction too.

“A new combined leadership for North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bristol should strengthen all three organisations significantly, but we need to be sure there’s no danger of merging them into a single greater Bristol-type trust.”

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