Are we at the tipping point?

We seem to be coming to an exciting point in our life as a CCG and one that very much feels like a tipping point albeit a positive one, well that’s my view….for now!

Why do I see this as a tipping point? Because it is now clearly apparent that CCGs must be the champions for transformation of healthcare services. The starting point is how we are working to change the way people can access primary care and what services are available for people so that we can reduce the need for admission to hospital for treatments.

Here at our CCG I’m really proud of our commitment to this agenda. We have invested a significant amount of money as well as human resource to implement an extended access scheme. This means that our practices now offer early morning, late evening and/or weekend appointments. Early indications suggest that patient satisfaction has improved and practices are seeing their working relationships really develop around a common goal.

This brings me nicely on to the NHS Five Year Forward View, although realistically it is now a four year forward view as it has almost been a year since it was published. One of the key elements is the new models of care that will change the way we access or provide care including the care settings.

We continue to the work with our member practices in establishing their appetite and support to help design our response to the challenge of the NHS Five Year Forward View. To facilitate this we are holding a members event in September to both share the CCG’s developing approach and gather the views of the wider membership on the implications for the future , in particular the potential benefits of delegated primary care co-commissioning. We will also be looking to engage with our patients when it is appropriate to do so, as we need to work with our patients to co-design local healthcare services.

Co-commissioning of primary care could well be the catalyst for change but we can only know this for sure by working with our members and CCG staff. What I am certain of is that by transforming the way and kinds of services provided within primary care we can change other parts of the healthcare system.

This is where the tipping point comes into it. We need system leaders, and this includes our patients, to remain committed and resilient at a time when change is constant. It is these leaders, and I must repeat that patients are a critical part of this, that will enable change to happen.

Again I’m still excited by the potential and we already have an excellent patient leader programme in place – hopefully we will now recruit more members.

We are currently working on the revised Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for Leeds which will provide a context to everything we are trying to achieve. This is being led by the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board but again we need everyone to support this. You can get involved by taking part in consultation events taking place in the autumn, more details will be available soon.

Now time for an update from my other day job as a GP. Our practice has been implementing the extended access scheme including weekend appointments. A great example of how we are looking to demonstrate seven day working. We are now seeing a marked increase in the number of appointments being booked outside traditional hours as word gets round. Early indication shows that our usual Monday morning rush has reduced but we’ll need more time to see if this is a long-term trend.

It appears I may have reached a tipping point in my own life as we welcomed a new Dr Sinclair in our household. My son has recently graduated and is taking up a post as a junior doctor in medicine for the elderly (geriatrics) at St Thomas’s Hospital in London. It can be a little disconcerting getting post address to Dr Sinclair however, luckily, we don’t share the same initial!

Finally I attended our recent CCG social event at York Races – I didn’t back enough winners to retire. Dr Steve Ledger, a former GP and member of our Governing Body, treated us to a rather special rendition of Delilah. Just in case you were wondering what prompted this performance, Tom Jones was performing on the night although Dr Ledger may have upstaged him (tongue quite firmly in cheek).

I’m off to Chicago on a holiday where I will have the chance to listen to some real music as it is home to the blues. Just in time to learn some new riffs for our bands next booking at a wedding in September. Dr Ledger may well be invited on stage but this could  be a dangerous tipping point…



Dr Gordon Sinclair is the Clinical Chair for NHS Leeds West CCG as well as a practicing GP based at Burton Croft Surgery in Headingley, Leeds.