County leads the way in new care model

Rothbury Community Hospital
Rothbury Community Hospital
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Winter is beginning to bite and our thoughts turn to the annual pressure it places on our services, the NHS in particular.

The growing pressures on adult social care have been hitting the headlines as the NHS looks at how to tackle our ageing population whilst trying to offer more choice in care.

Northumberland is well ahead of the rest of the country with this drive towards an efficient system, which will vastly improve the experience for patients and their families.

There is frequently a gap between health care, often provided in hospitals, and social care, which can lead to people staying in hospital longer than they need to, which does not aid their recovery and increases pressures on the NHS.

This problem featured heavily in the Conservative manifesto at the 2015 general election, in which we pledged to integrate health and social care, with the aim of creating one smooth system, with no gaps and no one left behind.

That system is now being piloted in five local authorities, the first of which is Northumberland.

From April, subject to final approval, health and social care in Northumberland will form England’s first Accountable Care Organisation (ACO). This new model aims to create a more sustainable NHS by breaking down organisational barriers and joining up services.

This is extremely positive, and I am delighted Northumberland has been chosen as one of the first areas to take on this new, sensible model. Northumberland is well ahead of the rest of the country with this drive towards an efficient system, which will vastly improve the experience for patients and their families.

The following lists ACO public events to talk through the plans:

Tuesday, January 10 – Hexham Community Centre (2pm to 4pm)

Thursday, January 12 – Blyth Community Enterprise Centre (10am to noon)

Thursday, January 12 – Northumberland CVA, Ashington (2pm to 4pm)

Friday, January 13 – Bellview Resource Centre, Belford (10am to noon)

Please do go along to find out more.

At this time of year, it is crucial that we use pharmacies where possible to do our bit in easing the pressure on GPs. Many pharmacies run minor ailment schemes, with consultations for common problems like aches and pains, skin conditions and stomach upsets, on top of advice they give for stopping smoking, sprains, flu vaccines and medicine reviews.

One of the measures suggested for services in the county is the reduction of inpatient palliative care beds at Rothbury Community Hospital, whose 12 beds are presently closed.

NHS figures for the use of those beds were low, but I believe they should remain available for those who would prefer inpatient palliative care to receiving it at home. I have been working with community campaigners and the local NHS team, and we have had some productive meetings.

The NHS will be consulting on the future of Rothbury’s beds and I would urge those who feel strongly about this to take part to ensure local peoples’ views are taken into account and the strength of feeling is registered. Once the details of the consultation are known, I will publicise them on my website and to everyone who has contacted me about this issue.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Amble councillor Robert Arkless on his MBE in the New Years Honours for services to the community, and Alex Bennet, Northumberland Fire and Rescue’s outgoing Chief Fire Officer, who has been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service medal for distinguished service.