Challenge accepted!

At the end of April I’m going to be taking part in another gruelling (for me) cycling challenge, but before I do that there’s plenty of challenges within the system we need to address.

I recently attended a national briefing led by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive for NHS England and Jim Mackey, Chief Executive for NHS Improvement, on the planning guidance. They both made it clear that commissioners need to think about adult social care and community and mental health services as investment in acute care in recent times has been relatively significant.

Simon and Jim both acknowledged pressures within the system but made it clear that any service changes and financial planning must demonstrate a real return on investment that truly benefits patients.

You may have recently seen the coverage around the publication of the Draft West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). The draft STP has taken a number of months to pull together as all partners needed to ensure we fully understood the local and regional position before making the case for proposed changes.

At this stage it’s still a draft and anything we do to address the challenges will only be done following engagement with clinicians, staff, elected members and more importantly patients and the wider public.

While the STP has quite rightly been a key focus of our work and will be over the coming months we still have the day to day work to do. The regional approach is one that’s fully supported by our Healthy Futures programme.

The Healthy Futures programme is currently looking at specialised commissioning at a regional level and West Yorkshire level. We’re looking at how plans will fit in with the clinical and collaborative forum as well as the STP. More importantly we’re absolutely clear that we cannot proceed without patient and public engagement.

We’ve had similar conversations here in Leeds at the most recent meeting of the Health and Social Care Partnership Executive Group. We’re now looking at our priorities and plans for 2017-2018.

In Leeds there’s a real sense of partnership working and I’m really pleased with the progress being made around the proposed development of a health and social care academy. I recently met with Professor Ieuan Ellis, Pro Vice Chancellor for Leeds Beckett University, to get an update on the latest developments.

Key partners in the city will be meeting to discuss the proposed development of the academy, clarifying the vision and looking at options for developing it. We’d need to see how it would bring positive benefits to Leeds especially around clinical recruitment with a particular need around addressing the nursing shortage and developing clinical careers.

Linked to this we are sharing our progress on the One Voice approach being developed in Leeds and I recently was interviewed by the Health Service Journal (who had heard there were changes taking place in Leeds) to outline our proposed plans. I wanted to add that we’ve recently had our quarter two assurance meeting with NHS England and again we made it clear that the challenges facing the system will be addressed jointly by the Leeds CCGs.

This brings me nicely onto what has really pleased me the most and that is the attitude and support of all staff within the three CCGs. We’ve had lots of really good ideas about what the future should look like and how we can work together to address the well documented challenges.

I’m also pleased to be part of the stakeholder panel for the appointment of the Chief Officer and a Deputy Director for Integrated Commissioning for the Leeds Health Partnership.

Carrying on with the good news, it was great to be able to contribute to and attend the launch of the Leeds Cancer Strategy. It’s a good example of how the system is working together using our existing resources to give hope to people by developing plans that will help us to bring the best possible cancer services.

If you’ve read my blog in the past you’ll know I’m still a registered nurse and once again I’m looking forward to putting in a shift at St James’s Hospital on Ward 16.

I hope I can play a part in relieving some of the pressure at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The main issue isn’t around the number of people being admitted, although this is high, it’s being unable to discharge patients who need ongoing care. This is down to concerns that the appropriate care is not in place for them at their usual residence and that’s the issue we all need to address.

And finally….training will begin in earnest for my next cycle challenge. Once again I’ll be raising fund for St Gemma’s Hospice. This time around, me and my two wheels will be heading out to Europe as I take on the Vienna to Budapest route. Training updates and sponsorship news will follow in future blogs.


Philomena Corrigan is the Chief Executive for NHS Leeds West Clinical Commissioning Group