Time flies by

When I first started writing this blog I thought the last few weeks have been quieter than usual and then it dawned on me that this wasn’t the case. Maybe I’ve improved my own efficiency or I’m that busy now that the weeks fly by.

This past few weeks has seen me get involved in lots of discussions and decisions about primary care both at a local CCG level but also nationally.

Our CCG approved our most ambitious plans for improving access to primary care recently and now we have been working with our member practices to see how they can implement the scheme at a level that works best for them and their patients. To support this we are currently asking our practices to ask their patients what they think of our plans and what they expect their own practice to be able to offer.

As a CCG we need to develop a process for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the scheme so that we can assess how effective our investment has been. It is also important that we ensure our scheme does not impact on other local services. I recently met with the chief executive of Local Care Direct, the providers of our out-of-hours primary care service at Lexicon House, to see how our plans will dovetail with what they already have in place.

The Leeds Health and Social Care Transformation Programme recently held a workshop on primary care featuring a mix of primary care leads and other partners. The focus of the day was to consider how we use a model called the outcomes based approach (OBA) to understand the impact our ideas around transforming services will have on patients and the wider health and care system.

This was an educational experience for me and I’m still getting to grips with OBA. However the detailed process of analysis is a fabulous tool that really focuses thoughts on outcomes and not just systems and processes.

I’ve also taken part in a national roundtable discussion led by NHS England to consider future models of primary care. The meeting included representatives from a range of organisations and a range of care settings to see how primary care might look in the future and how it can link in with other services.

I will also be attending the NHS Commissioning Assembly’s meeting before I go on holiday (you’ll be reading this after I’ve been to the meeting). The Assembly gives clinical and management leads at CCGs a chance to come together and discuss how we can commission services that deliver the best possible outcomes for patients.

Back in Leeds I recently attended Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) AGM and was really pleased to see around 50 people in attendance. This was a lot more than those who attended our AGM and demonstrates how people feel quite strongly and have a greater understanding about service provision and less so of the work of commissioners – more food for thought.

The AGM covered some of the key achievements and challenges facing the Trust including their real commitment to improving quality. Our CCG leads on managing the contract with LTHT so it was important for me to hear first hand from their key directors as well as listening to the questions and views of patients and the wider public who attended the AGM.

Across West Yorkshire we have a group called 10CC (not the one that had a hit in the 1980s) which features representatives from all 10 CCGs in our region. This gives us a chance to look at how we can commission some services on a regional level rather than just looking at citywide or neighbourhood level services.

We are now looking to encourage our health and care providers to copy this model and have a similar group set up so that we can ensure that care services are closely integrated. More importantly the value of partnership working cannot be underestimated both for commissioners and providers of services.

I’m also delighted to let you know that Steve Ledger has been appointed to the role of Lay Member – Assurance on our Governing Body. Steve had recently stepped down from a different role on our Governing Body as a locality chair so I’m delighted that we still have his knowledge and expertise available to us. Just when Steve thought he could escape the CCG we’ve reeled him back in.

On a personal note I’m about to head off on holiday to Switzerland. When I get back I’ll be planning for our golf club’s Christmas show playing with an offshoot of my usual band – this time I’ll be playing bass. I’m also hoping to get Steve Ledger to don his Elvis outfit and wig and join us on stage.

According to one of my patients I still look the same as I did 10 years ago but I’ve lost weight, I’m not sure if that was a compliment or someone showing genuine concern for my health! Anyway rest assured I’m fine and the dual role as Clinical Chair of our CCG and a practicing GP is not leading to stress-related weight loss even though I’ve been busier than I thought I had been.

Finally I just want to wish my niece all the best as she starts her first year at medical school here in Leeds and I’d like to extend my best wishes to all students who have chosen to come to study in our city.



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.