Rebuilding the jigsaw

This month has seen me working with colleagues across the health system in Leeds, as well as our member practices, to look at how we can recombine commissioning budgets. This follows a period of fragmentation as a result of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and what, on the face of it, appears to be a complicated jigsaw puzzle.

I attended our most recent members’ meeting where we discussed the proposed approach of the three Leeds CCGs to primary care co-commissioning prior to the submission of our application in January.

I outlined our thoughts on how we think we should be progressing with primary care co-commissioning starting with general practice at this stage. We will look at other primary care services (pharmacy, dentistry and ophthalmology) in the future but this is after all a complicated jigsaw puzzle and can’t be solved in one attempt.

We are actively seeking the views of our member GP practices as we are members-led organisation and that is why co-commissioning was the focal point for our most recent meeting. We want to gather the views of our membership and outline the positive opportunity for our members to influence and control the future of primary care locally. This is especially important as there is a local and national drive to shift care from hospital-based settings to community-based services.

We look forward to working with our members and indeed listening to the views of member practices at our neighbouring CCGs in Leeds before our final primary care co-commissioning submission to NHS England.

I continue to receive mentoring support from Mike Farrar, a respected NHS colleague who has a range of leadership experience within the NHS. He is helping me to understand how I can connect with system leaders particularly with the complex set up we have in Leeds – which I hasten to add is similar to any other similar sized city. It is important for me to remember that the CCG is not an island and that we must work with all partners including the local authority.

If any of my patients are reading this blog I assure you I haven’t forgotten my day job as a practicing GP. I’m pleased to say that we have now implemented our new appointment system which allows for greater flexibility in offering same day walk-in appointments for our patients. As with any new initiative there are some teething problems and we need to get the balance right between walk-in and routine appointments.

Our practice was also involved in a Personal Medical Services (PMS) review carried out by NHS England’s local area team which is also known as NHS England (West Yorkshire).  PMS agreements are locally agreed contracts between NHS England and a GP practice. As the healthcare system continues to evolve there is a growing recognition that GP practices will need to work closely with their respective CCGs to see how they can reinvest PMS funding back into primary care services.

With this blog coming so close to Christmas and it being possibly the last one I do before the New Year I wanted to say that I’m looking forward to our CCG’s team night out as well as a lunch at our GP practice. This is the time of the year where we get tempted to overindulge so I’m hoping my recent holiday to Spain has reminded me of the benefits of a healthy diet!

At this time of the year the NHS reminds patients to order their repeat prescriptions in advance so that you are not caught short over the holiday period. This links in nicely with another development at our practice as we are now running the electronic prescription service which means I no longer need to sign as many prescriptions. My fingers will be grateful for that as they are rather sore following a four hour long band session recently – it’s a good thing the NHS jigsaw is metaphorical or I’d have no chance piecing it together!

Finally I have to let you know that I lost my most recent golf match, it’s a good job I don’t take it seriously (!) and I blame the sore fingers. Whatever the reason maybe that’s one thing I can’t put down to the Health and Social Care Act… or can I?

Oh and before I do sign off for Christmas did you know that 12 December marks Christmas Jumper Day? This awareness day has been set up to raise money for Save the Children. I think I’ll contribute financially as some of my colleagues already question my dress sense on the other 364 days so I suppose I better give the jumper a miss.

Until next time, have a great Christmas and I look forward to bringing you more updates in 2015 (unless of course I can squeeze one more blog in).



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.