My View, Dr David Crichton: More power to decide local health plans

Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
Doncaster Royal Infirmary.
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April 2016 is set to be a key milestone in the development of Doncaster’s health services.

Earlier this month, NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group was given the go-ahead to ‘commission’ – which simply means organise, pay for and monitor – additional services you receive at your local GP surgery.

Previously, NHS England had that role. Now it has been delegated to us in what will be a big step forward in helping us to plan and co-ordinate Doncaster’s health services much better in the future.

It will enable the CCG to have a greater say in how the wider NHS budget for Doncaster is spent and potentially allowing funding to be allocated to services that could be brought out of hospital and provided at your GP surgery or other places near where you live.

Our new responsibilities include making decisions on the launching of any new GP practices – including branch surgeries – and any closures. We will also be able to look at how we can provide, for example, more wide-ranging services in local surgeries and community settings as part of the drive to prevent people from becoming ill in the first place.

It will provide a great opportunity for clinicians, patients and communities to decide how local NHS services are developed. The CCG now has a ‘helicopter’ view of all NHS services provided in Doncaster, so we can make sure they are joined up and working effectively. We can look at new ways of providing care across the borough, with decisions made by people who are involved in local health services and have the interests of Doncaster patients at heart.

The first step towards this takes place on Wednesday April 27, 10am to noon, when the launch meeting of the CCG’s new Primary Care Committee – the group that will manage our new responsibilities – takes place at our Sovereign House HQ on Heavens Walk.

I believe decision making should be made in a transparent manner and the NHS should be accountable to the people we serve. So I am pleased the committee will meet in public and I hope Doncaster people will come to listen to the issues and see how and why decisions are made. You can find out when future meetings will be held on our website: www.doncasterccg.nhs.uk.

Both the chair of the committee, Linda Tully and vice chair, Anthea Morris, are both lay members recruited from the community. Representatives from Doncaster’s Health & Wellbeing Board and Healthwatch Doncaster will also be members as part of the scrutiny process. We have a chance to take greater local control of NHS services and to involve Doncaster people in making sure they work for them. It’s an opportunity to grasp with both hands.