New Independent Chair appointed to lead Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire health and care system

Health and care leaders from Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire (BSW) have appointed a new Independent Chair.

Stephanie Elsy, a Non-Executive Director at Solent Community and Mental Health Trust and former Leader of Southwark Council in London, joins the BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) from 9 December 2019.

She will provide independent leadership and work to oversee the ongoing improvement and integration of health and care services across the region.

She will also help to deliver the ambitions set out in BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire’s Five Year Plan  – which will be published early next year – and provide support to the partnership as it develops into an Integrated Care System (ICS) by April 2021.

Integrated Care Systems are NHS organisations working in partnership with local councils and others to take collective responsibility for managing resources, delivering NHS standards and improving the health of the population they serve.

Stephanie Elsy said:
“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to work with health and care leaders across BSW during such an exciting time.

“Our local health and care system is under considerable pressure and it is now more important than ever before that we work in a seamlessly integrated manner to improve service quality, improve the health and wellbeing of our local population and deliver financial stability.”

Tracey Cox, Chief Executive Officer of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs and STP Senior Responsible Officer said:

“Appointing Stephanie as an Independent Chair is a significant step forwards for BSW.

“She will play a central role in holding the system to account for delivering positive change, promoting joint working, securing the support of the boards and staff of all of our partners and ensuring the public are engaged and well informed.”

Stephanie has worked in the delivery of public services for over 30 years. She was a CEO in the charity sector for 15 years managing community and residential services for people recovering from substance misuse, people with disabilities and people living with HIV and AIDS.

She has also worked in local politics as a Councillor in the London Borough of Southwark in 1995, becoming Chair of Education in 1998 and then Leader of the Council in 1999.

After retiring from local government in 2002 Stephanie served on the Board of Southwark Primary Care Trust. She then worked for eight years as a Director of External Affairs for Serco Group. Since 2012 she has run a consultancy providing support to businesses delivering services to government. In 2017 she became a Non-Executive Director on the Board of Solent NHS Trust where she now Chairs the Finance and the Community Engagement Committee.

Stephanie lives in Emsworth, Hampshire, is married to her partner of 20 years, Christine, and has three grown up step-daughters and six grandchildren.

Help stop the spread of Norovirus in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire this winter

People living in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being asked to help stop the spread of Norovirus this winter by following some simple steps.

Norovirus – often referred to as the winter vomiting bug – is a very unpleasant and highly contagious stomach bug that causes diarrhoea and vomiting.

Although most people will recover within a few days, if it is introduced unintentionally into schools, nurseries, hospitals or care homes, it can spread incredibly quickly and affect vulnerable people.

Norovirus is already causing problems in hospitals across the area and has led to ward closures and had an impact on waiting times.

To help reduce norovirus-related problems this winter, health and care leaders in BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire are asking people to play their part in stopping the spread of the condition by just thinking NORO:

N     No visits to hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of Norovirus – send someone else to visit loved ones
       until you are better.
O     Once you’ve been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you’re safe to return to work, school or visit hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes
R     Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet, and before eating or preparing food
O     Only hand-washing will prevent spread of norovirus – alcohol hand gels DON’T kill the virus

Dr Richard Sandford-Hill, a GP in Market Lavington and Clinical Chair of the Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group said:
“There have already been a number of clinical settings across BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire affected by norovirus and we’re keen to keep these to a minimum as our health and care services begin to experience increased demand on services this winter.

Self-treating at home is the best way to help yourself and avoid putting others at risk. You don’t normally need to see your GP as usually drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol to relieve pain will help.

If you’re concerned, the NHS 111 phone or online service is a helpful alternative to going to your GP in person for advice.”

Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality at Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs said:
“At this time of the year we all need to be extra vigilant about the dangers of catching and spreading norovirus.

No one wants to suffer the effects of this unpleasant disease and we need to do all we can to minimise the disruption it can have on our hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes, schools and nurseries.

Taking a few very simple steps can really help to address this problem. I’d urge everyone in our local area to makes sure they are washing their hands regularly with soap and water, keeping away from hospitals and GP surgeries if they have the condition and waiting at least 48 hours after symptoms have gone before returning to work or school.”

Health and care leaders in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire will be listening to views put forward by local residents as they draw up plans for the future.

Over 2000 people across the region have passed on their views about improving health and care services by answering questionnaires and attending events organised by local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and independent health champion Healthwatch.

Members of the public were invited to share their views as part of the Our Health Our Future campaign, organised by local CCGs, and the Healthwatch  #Whatwouldyoudo? campaign. The results of the Healthwatch survey have been published online.

The Healthwatch survey showed local people would like to see improved use of technology for booking appointments, more help for people to lead healthier lifestyles, shorter waiting times for access to GP appointments and for health professionals to have a better understanding of long-term health conditions such as autism.

The Our Health Our Future campaign closed on 31 July and collected responses from around 1600 people across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire. Results from the survey will now be analysed by an independent researcher and will be shared with the public in the autumn.

Views collected from both campaigns will be used by health leaders as they draw up a plan for how health and care services across the region will be organised over the next five years

Dr Ian Orpen, Chair of the BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire Clinical Board, said:
“We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to fill in the surveys and speak to us at events across the region over the past few weeks. “It’s clear that local people have strong views about how heath and care services should be organised in the future. We will listen to them and make sure we address their concerns as we draw up plans for how we organise services over the coming years.”
Carol Willis, Manager at Healthwatch Swindon said:
“The Government is investing an additional £20 billion a year until 2023 in the NHS to implement the vision laid out in the NHS Long Term Plan. We were asked to help find out what local people thought was the best way for the NHS in Bath & North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire to invest in the right services as part of this plan. “It was wonderful to listen to so many people keen to make a difference to our local NHS. These views are all in the report and we will now monitor how the local NHS responds.”

Be prepared and help ease pressure on health services this Easter

People living in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Swindon and Wiltshire are being urged to get ready for the approaching Easter holidays in order to help ease demand on health services across the region.

As GP surgeries prepare for the Easter break, health and care leaders are asking people to check they have the essential medication they need to see them through the holiday period and make sure they know where to go for healthcare advice and treatment.

They are also being advised that for non-urgent minor conditions, pharmacists are equipped to give advice on over the counter medications and treatments.

Bank holidays can be extremely busy for the NHS and local people are being asked to use services wisely so that accident and emergency departments and ambulance services are available for those who need them most.

Most GP surgeries across the region will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday on 19 and 22 April, although pre-booked appointments are available at some surgeries and walk in centres and some urgent treatment centres will also be open.

Dr Ian Orpen, a GP based in Bath and Chair of BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire’s Clinical Board, said:

“Everybody wants to enjoy the Easter holidays, so it’s a good idea to do as much as possible to prepare for them in advance – particularly when it comes to staying well. We don’t want people to run out of their medication, become poorly and miss out on an enjoyable break, so do make sure you have enough repeat medicine to last over the long weekend.”

“If you are unlucky enough to be ill over the Easter holiday, remember you can phone 111. NHS 111 is the Freephone number to call should you need urgent medical advice when your GP surgery is closed. You’ll speak with a trained advisor who will help you. You can also access NHS 111 online, 24 hours a day.”

Other things people across B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire can do to stay healthy and prepare for the Easter break include:

  • Make sure your medicine cabinet is well-stocked and includes essentials such as sticking plasters, paracetamol, anti-diarrhoea medicine and indigestion remedy. Having these items to hand could save you time and the stress of a mad dash to your local pharmacy or shop.

  • Remember that, for non-urgent, minor conditions, pharmacists are equipped to give advice on over the counter medications and treatments. A list of pharmacists open this Easter can be found on our website or on the NHS England and NHS Improvement website at

  • Parents can access expert advice about common childhood illnesses and how to treat them via HANDi App – a mobile app which is free and can be downloaded to any Apple or Android smartphone or tablet.


New Chief Executive appointed to continue integration of health and care across BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire

Three NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have appointed a single Chief Executive to oversee the ongoing improvement and integration of health and care services across the region.

Tracey Cox has taken up the position of Chief Executive of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs and will also lead the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) for the region.

The STP brings together NHS providers, GPs, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Authorities, hospital trusts and other community organisations to join up and improve health and care services for local people.

Tracey was previously Accountable Officer for BaNES CCG and Interim Senior Responsible Officer for the STP. She will oversee closer working between the three local Clinical Commissioning Groups, which will operate with a single senior management team, use their collective resources more efficiently and streamline their respective decision-making arrangements.

Her appointment comes as the NHS sets out its vision for the future in its new Long Term Plan which emphasises the importance of health and care organisations working collaboratively and looks to give everyone the best start in life, world-class care for major health problems and help to age well.

Tracey Cox, Chief Executive Officer for BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire CCGs and STP said:

“With our local health and care system facing unprecedented demand and financial pressures, it’s now more important than ever before that health and care providers work in a joined up and seamlessly integrated manner.

Where it makes sense, we will work collaboratively to deliver health & care improvements for a larger population across the region. We will also continue with our existing plans for local integration and transforming services that benefit our local communities and are responsive to people’s needs.

The views and the needs of people living in the local area will play a central role in the way we shape services in the future and we will be starting a programme of public engagement about this over the next few months.”

Dr Ian Orpen, chair of BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire STP’s Clinical Board, said: 

“Tracey’s appointment asserts the local health and care system’s commitment to integrated working which will deliver improved health and wellbeing, better services and better value for money for everyone living in B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire.”

Councillor Jerry Wickham, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and Public Protection on Wiltshire Council and Chair of BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire STP said:

“I’m delighted that Tracey has been appointed to oversee closer integration of health and care services across our region. It is only through working together as a truly integrated system that we will be able to help people to stay well, act early to prevent ill health and, where care is needed, make sure it is delivered in a joined up way.

This move builds on existing good joint working across the three CCGs and local authorities and is in line with what is happening in other areas of England.”

Sore throat, cough, cold or minor illness? See your local pharmacist first

People in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Swindon and Wiltshire suffering from minor illnesses including sore throats, coughs, colds, tummy troubles and aches and pains are being urged to seek help from their local pharmacist in the first instance rather than booking an appointment with their GP or visiting their local A&E department.

The advice is part of a new NHS campaign to encourage the public – and particularly parents with young children – to visit a local pharmacy as their first choice for help with common minor health concerns.

The campaign follows research which shows that 27 per cent of GP appointments could potentially be treated elsewhere and that 18 per cent of these appointments could be treated through self-care and community pharmacists.

Andrew Hobson, Pharmacy Manager at Cohens Chemist in Royal Wootton Bassett and Vice Chair of Community Pharmacy Swindon and Wiltshire said:

“Every year, millions of people visit their GP with minor health problems that a local pharmacy could easily help with. By visiting your pharmacy instead of your GP about a minor illness, you could save yourself time. Seeing a pharmacist will also free up appointments for your GP to see other patients.

Pharmacists can help recognise and treat many common illnesses. We can give advice and where appropriate, recommend over-the-counter medicines that could help clear up the problem. We can also give advice about how to take medicines and answer questions about common side-effects. If we think you need to see a GP for your illness, we will advise you to do that.”

Richard Brown, Chief Officer of Avon Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said:

“There is a strong network of local pharmacists across B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire. They are often open late and at weekends, can see people without an appointment and their highly trained staff can offer quick and effective treatment and good advice about many common conditions.

For minor health concerns such as coughs and colds, don’t wait until it gets worse, ask your pharmacist first.”