Friday, December 22, 2017

December meeting of the Copeland Health and Wellbeing Forum

Yesterday's meeting of the Copeland Health and Wellbeing Forum was held at Westlakes and consisted of a series of presentations about positive things which are happening to develop the Health Service in West Cumbria followed by a short tour of the facilities at the West Cumberland Medical Education Centre at Westlakes.

Discussions about the development of Health services in the area have not always been uniformly positive in the past but this meeting was brimming with details of ideas to improve learning and development opportunities for staff and services for patients.

We heard about some of the medical courses being run by UCLAN at Westlakes and West Cumberland Hospital, including the new "Physician Associate" qualification and the Master's programme. (You can identify Physician Associates if you see one at WCH because they wear smart and distinctive burgundy-coloured uniforms). There are some details of what's happening at Westlakes to help upskill our local NHS here.  

We also heard about some of the work being done at Westlakes to help the NHS make itself more patient friendly, addressing concerns like those in this YouTube video which we were shown:

(This is so true - problems like this certainly do need reform and it was really helpful to take part in a discussion addressing it.)

It was noted that the structure of the NHS has evolved over 70 years in a way which nobody would design if they sit down to set up a caring, rational and effective health service from scratch, and we need to make things simpler, clearer, more transparent and less constrained by geographical or structural organisational barriers.

There were also discussions on what is currently known as "Co-Production" which means working with the community to deliver healthcare - a better title for this would be "Working Together" - on local health priorities and on the very exciting work which is being done on the second and third stages of redevelopment at West Cumberland Hospital.

The most positive aspect of this is that with better facilities, more being done to develop skills, more thought to giving patients and staff alike a better experience, and that work being noticed and called out at a national level, medical staff think of West Cumbria as an exciting place to come and work, which is already helping with recruitment. We need to ensure that all these excellent ideas become reality so that staff morale improves, we retain the good staff we have, and the sustainability of the services which the community needs will be established beyond doubt.

I don't want to sound like I'm having an attack of unrealistic optimism here, because I recognise that putting forward good ideas is the easy bit, now we have to make sure they are properly funded and implemented to make them work and this is going to be an enormous challenge.

But at least yesterday we were hearing positive ideas and positive news.

Comparing the discussion I heard yesterday with the ones we were having at the time of the "success regime" consultation in 2016 represents a massive transformation for the better in just 12 months.


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