Current challenges are of real concern

An ageing population, increasing health care costs and a professional shortage in the health industry are all challenges faced by Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Tasked with buying health services across Wiltshire, the CCG needs to make substantial savings in order to continue to provide the best health services for the people of Wiltshire.

Simon Truelove, Interim Accountable Officer at Wiltshire CCG comments:
“People are living longer which is a good thing, but they are not always living well. In Wiltshire, over 22% of our population is over 65 and there are 75,000 people in the county living with long term health conditions.

“A significant proportion of our annual budget is spent on helping older people and those with long term health conditions to live well. This does have an impact on our ability to provide services elsewhere in the system as we only have one pot of money available to us.”

Dr Richard Sanford-Hill a GP at Market Lavington Surgery said:
“Meeting the challenges of providing health care for an increasingly ageing population is difficult. In my own practice a majority of my routine appointments are attended by people aged over 65, and those people often have complex long term needs.

“Having a lot of people registered with our practice we are struggling to keep up with demand and are looking at ways that we can continue to support our patients by doing things differently. Our Emergency Care Practitioners (ECPs), are one example of how we are changing the way people access healthcare in the area. Our ECP’s are based in the community and provide health advice and support to people in their own homes. The fantastic service delivered by our ECP nurses means that we can free up GP capacity to review the care and support of people who are more vulnerable and at much greater risk of going into hospital.”

Simon Truelove continues:
“It is not only our ageing population that is of particular challenge, across the Wiltshire, BaNES and Swindon health and social care economy there is likely to be an annual funding gap of £100m by 2017 unless we can find ways to save money right across the system. In addition, a shortage of health and social care professionals, when demand is outstripping capacity, means that we are facing some very real challenges over the coming years.”
Dr Richard Sanford-Hill adds:
Financial pressures and an ageing population are not new issues but ones that we must address with some urgency. Key to relieving these pressures is by providing healthcare in or as close to home as possible and here in Wiltshire we are making good progress towards achieving this.

“I have been a GP in Market Lavington for over 20 years and over that time have seen considerable changes in the NHS. Compared with some areas of the country Wiltshire is doing relatively well retaining and recruiting GPs. However, some practices in the county are struggling to recruit and attract locums which does increase the workload for the remaining GPs. Unfortunately allied to this there is a big problem recruiting other health care workers, such as nurses and carers. This gap in resourcing places greater strain on the services we provide and means that we are continuously looking for ways in which we can provide services more efficiently.”

Simon Truelove continues:
“It’s not all doom and gloom though, we have made some great strides forward to help address some of the issues we are facing. Working together with Wiltshire Council through the Better Care Fund and the CCG’s Transforming Care of Older People programme is making a real difference to the lives of people in the county. Our joint approach has enhanced the support people receive in or as close to home as possible and we are tackling head on the issue of social isolation which can have a big impact on someone’s health and wellbeing.”

“We know that we face a tough road ahead, but by working with our health colleagues across the county we can carve the right path through. This will ensure that we continue to provide the best health services for the people of Wiltshire now and in the future.”

With a population of over 480,000 spread throughout a mainly rural county, delivering on its core objective of providing quality health services as close to home as possible is a challenge, but one that the CCG has defined as essential in order for health care provision in Wiltshire to remain sustainable.