The Spring edition of our newsletter updating you on the latest developments in health and care services across NW London.
There are major changes happening to the way healthcare is delivered to the two million people who live in this part of London.
- Changes to GP services, making it easier to book an appointment, on more days of the week.
- Changes to the way GP, hospital and social care services are all joined up, making the patient’s experience care that is truly integrated.
- Changes to hospital services, ensuring more specialist doctors are available for the most complex needs, more of the time.
- Changes to the way we care for people with a mental illness, ensuring that both crisis care and long term care are better, more joined up, and more effective.
- Changes to the way patients and the public are involved in the care which matters to them – ensuring they are involved in helping to design the new ways of delivering that care, and giving feedback all along the way.
This transformation of care across the eight NW London boroughs (Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster) will save hundreds of lives each year.
It is a clear vision for a better NHS being driven forward by the eight clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), made up of GPs from the NW London boroughs. These GPs have worked with patients and the wider public, with lay partners, hospital doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, providers of community care, local boroughs, volunteer groups and charities to develop their vision and proposals.
They believe that the way NHS services are delivered needs to change over the next few years to ensure that we can provide the highest quality care in the future. Some of the changes are already happening, others will take years to put in place.
The closures of the small A&E units at Central Middlesex Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital were brought forward for clinical safety reasons on the advice of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and with the full support of GPs and clinicians in the hospitals. They have been replaced by 24/7 urgent care centres. While these have been controversial in some areas, clinical leaders are confident we are now running a safer system.
Nine Urgent Care Centres in NW London are now open 24/7. The UCCs at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex are working to the new enhanced UCC model and consistently the 95% target for seeing patients within 4 hours.
On their part, NHS staff are committed to delivering high quality care, but need to have the right workforce, skills and surroundings to deliver this for patients. Changes are not being made until capacity is in place to manage patients being treated in different places – for example – outside of local hospitals.
As people live longer and the population of London increases, the NHS faces increasing pressure. Conditions related to old age and modern lifestyles are becoming more prevalent and there are too few specialists in hospitals to provide high quality 24/7 care, working from inadequate NHS facilities, and working within an increasingly tight budget.
Overall beds in NWL have slightly increased by 39 compared with the same time last year. However, in the long term, it has always been made clear that bed numbers will reduce as more care is provided in the community and advances in medicine mean people need to be in hospital for a shorter time.
There are better places to treat people locally, such as in out of hospital locations. These are seeing more investment in NW London so that care can switch to better settings once improvements have happened. These challenges need to be met – or the NHS and its services in NW London will deteriorate.
The vision is also backed by clinical standards based on the best available evidence to make sure that quality improves wherever care is being delivered, whether that is close to home, in emergencies, or in situations where specialist treatment is needed.