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Doctors are calling for 'urgent changes' to healthcare in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.
An interim report into the local health service says the area is lagging behind other parts of the country.
Doctors say they want more collaboration across hospitals, community and GP services and they want a health system that focuses on results rather than the number of patients treated.
Healthcare across Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes is said to be "already being left behind with local people unable to access best practice, innovative care that is available elsewhere in the country."
The report adds "further delaying change will lead to an increasingly indebted local health service that is unable to invest in future care."
These are the conclusions of the midway report of the Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes Healthcare Review, titled 'A Case For Change'.
The review covers all NHS-funded healthcare in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes across four key areas: planned care, urgent care, long-term conditions and children and maternity care.
It is being led by Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG) and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (MKCCG) with support from three national agencies: NHS England, Monitor and the Trust Development Authority.
The main challenges facing local healthcare are said to be:
- Increased demand from a growing and ageing population.
- Major staff shortages.
- A rising deficit, all of which threaten the quality and safety of patient care.
- This year Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes health services, that is both CCGs, Milton Keynes Hospital and Bedford Hospital, are said to have a combined deficit of £21 million. If nothing changes then by 2018/19 this is anticipated to rise to around £100 million.
However the report also highlights opportunities to transform local health services, such as:
- Investing more in preventing ill health and patient education to enable people who are ill to do more for themselves.
- Learning from good practice elsewhere both in the UK and abroad.
- Working more closely with council-funded social services.
- Linking payment for healthcare to benefits for patients rather than the current system which pays for the number of treatments or patients seen.
Dr Paul Hassan, Bedfordshire GP and accountable officer at Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: "A case for change shows just how essential it is that we do something now.
This review is a unique opportunity for us to develop a sustainable health system that delivers the healthcare local people tell us they want.
As we enter this crucial final stage of the Review, it is vital, local patients and clinicians continue to tell us what sort of health system they want and we are calling on everyone to get involved."
Dr Nicola Smith Milton Keynes GP and Chair at NHS Milton Keynes CCG said: "Patients are at the heart of this review.
Ensuring we can maintain high quality services that fit the needs of our local population is our highest priority.
So far we have learned, among other things, that our healthcare services are not sufficiently joined up ¡V too often co-ordinating treatment between GPs, community care, hospitals and social care is difficult.
We will continue to seek out and listen to the views of our patients and clinicians throughout the rest of this review and beyond to hear from them what they think it will take to make our health services fit for purpose as we move further into an ever more challenging period for the NHS."
Dr Jane Halpin, area director, NHS England Hertfordshire & South Midlands said: "A case for change gives us a real understanding of the needs of our local community for their future health services and I would encourage everyone to make their voice heard.
This is the time to engage with the review and get involved with the shaping of health services in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes for the future."
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