New technology and a trip down memory lane

Our recent successful bid for the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund has resulted in a trip down memory lane…more on that shortly.

Due to the dedication and hard work of our primary care team and support from our member practices we have been successful with our bid to the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund. The fund encourages applications from CCGs that are looking at innovative ways to improve access to primary care.

The successful bid will allow us to build on the foundations we already have in place that are already helping to improve access to primary care for our local patients. The funding will help us revolutionise the way we communicate not just with our patients but also among clinicians across the Leeds healthcare system. I have to admit it can be difficult trying to track down someone in the health system so I can only imagine how hard it must be at times for patients looking to find someone.

We will be looking to introduce the latest available digital technology to give patients greater flexibility around how they interact with health services. This potentially frees up time for those patients that actually need to see a doctor or practice nurse face to face. We will of course need to educate and support the workforce but equally important is helping patients get to grips with the new ways of contacting their GP practice so that they can take greater control of their health.

On a personal level, as a GP this will help me greatly as I can use simpler and more effective means of communications rather than relying on mobile phones that are sometimes switched off or out of signal. Isn’t it odd though that your mobile phone always has reception in the middle of a meeting when you have forgotten to put it to silent mode! It will also mean we can be friendlier to the environment as we reduce the need for paper-based communications.

Now for that dose of nostalgia. I’ve been considering how this means we will no longer need our fax machine, I can’t quite believe we still use it. That has got me thinking about some of the great gadgets of years gone by such as space invaders on an arcade machine and the age of cassettes and mix tapes. For nostalgia fans here’s a fabulous list of 80s gadgets I’ve come across. Anyway back to the blog….

In our practice we have received a further update on the Leeds Care Record that will have a direct impact on patient care. For example we can now see information relating to our own patients who are in hospital via a virtual electronic whiteboard populated by clinical staff at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Now all I need to do is have my password sent to me. Luckily the system will soon be accessed through my smartcard which is great as there’s just too many passwords.

Work continues on the Healthy Future Programme which involves the 10 CCGs in West Yorkshire as well as NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG. We are also looking at how we can bring this collaborative approach to a much wider area so that we can help colleagues across the wider Yorkshire region to plan healthcare more effectively. This can help us tackle some of the health inequalities experienced by some of our communities.

Information is key to all our work. The best collaborative decisions can only be made if we have the right information to hand and we share it appropriately across our partners. We know that local authorities in the region are also looking at adopting a similar approach so we have to get it right.

Since my last blog our CCG held a staff awards event to recognise the excellent work of our colleagues that is contributing to the ongoing success of the CCG. The fun filled event demonstrated to me the commitment, hard work and camaraderie we have here. This is why I feel it is such a great place to work and why I’m privileged to be the Clinical Chair of NHS Leeds West CCG.

We are all eagerly awaiting the results of the General Election on 7 May to see what impact this may have on the future of the NHS. We are currently in the pre-election period which limits the activities that public sector organisations can undertake. However we continue to develop plans so that we can commission the best possible services irrespective of what the result might be in a few weeks.

On a personal note I had a relaxing family trip to Scotland to see my dad who lives (near) Balmoral. I’m not aware of any royal family connections but may just put in a request to the BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ programme. It was great to catch up with the family and we were actually the warmest spot in Britain on one of the days, which goes to show you can have a great holiday without leaving these shores.

I turned 50 last year and it looks as though age might finally be catching up with me. I am increasingly enjoying gardening to get the sense of fulfilment which comes with watching something grow with a bit of care and attention (just like a CCG!) I did a spot of gardening on return from Scotland and ended up injuring my back resulting in (3 days) off work.  I might just ask our gardening guru (who features in our engage magazine) for some advice – hopefully he won’t be selling me certain types of insurance!

As ever if you have any comments or would like to add to my thoughts on memorable gadgets from yesteryear do leave a comment.



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.