Rolling up your sleeves and making a difference
On May 12th, 2014 In General
I have often been asked whether it's right for someone without a medical background to be Chair of a health organisation like North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
It's a fair question, but when I explain how our CCG is structured it's clear that many other CCGs across the country are beginning to sit up and take notice.
I've always shared the view that you can't afford to be critical of what's going on around you unless you're prepared to roll up your sleeves and make a difference yourself - which is exactly what I did in 2006 when I became involved in Local Strategic Partnerships (LSP).
Back then I was Managing Director of the Grimsby Telegraph and the LSP was all about helping to grow and the develop the community in North East Lincolnshire through business opportunities in the public, private and voluntary sector. After a year I began to chair the LSP and over a further five years saw how the health and wellbeing of our community was integral to its future growth.
I firmly believed that the economic wellbeing and aspirations of our community, the prospect for meaningful employment and pride in the area was integral to the health and wellbeing of our community. However, I did always struggle to understand why health and social care services were separated between the NHS and local government. For instance, an 80-year-old woman who needs help to get out of bed in the morning to socialise with people shouldn't be pigeonholed into the health or social care category
Shortly after, I became involved in the Care Trust Plus (which has since disbanded and been replaced by Clinical Commissioning Groups following the Government's NHS reforms). From the beginning I saw that the way we were approaching things in North East Lincolnshire was different, that we understood the importance of combining health and social care services and shared budgets to make sure that local people got the care and support they needed, regardless of what bracket it fell under. Our emerging CCG wanted to build on this unique approach and improve it further still.
Looking back there have been a lot of changes in local services over the last nine years, but I really feel that each change has made us examine how we operate and improve the service we deliver. The most recent move to becoming a Clinical Commissioning Group has provided an opportunity to really demonstrate our commitment to involving members of the public right in the heart of our decision making. Everyone at the CCG is determined that whilst our organisation is led by experienced and dedicated clinicians, members of the public are involved at every stage challenging, supporting and influencing decisions before they are made, rather than simply being consulted after the fact.
As a lay Chair, one of my roles is to ensure that this approach is maintained and strengthened, that the clinical, community and managerial perspective are all considered when decisions about the future of our local health and care are being made.
The structure of the CCG reflects these aspirations.
We have a Council of Members, representing every GP practice in the area and Adult Social Care, and we have the Community Forum. This forum, made up individuals drawn from the 2000 members of the Community group Accord, are every bit a part of the structure of the CCG as the clinicians and managers are. They work together with doctors in shaping, innovating and putting in place the services our community need .
This approach is streets ahead of other parts of the country, with other CCGs aspiring to emulate what we have achieved so far. I am immensely proud to be working with the people, groups and providers that make up the North East Lincolnshire CCG.