What is Salford CCG?
Salford CCG has control of Salford's NHS budget (a lump sum of money given to us each year by the Department of Health).
It is our job to make the decisions on how this money should be spent in order to provide the best possible levels of healthcare for the people of Salford.
So who is in Salford CCG?
Every GP in Salford has agreed to join together as a consortium and become part of Salford CCG. Each GP has signed up to take on an active role in making sure this organisation is a success.
Salford CCG's Chair is Dr Tom Tasker from St Andrew's Medical Centre in Eccles and there are a small group of other Salford GPs who have agreed to spend a part of their week working with Dr Tasker in Salford CCG leadership roles, while continuing to spend the remaining part of their week in their practices treating patients as usual.
Why did the Salford GPs decide to create Salford CCG?
Over the last decade, local health budgets and health decisions have been controlled by organisations called Primary Care Trusts (such as NHS Salford). However, the government has made the decision that in April 2013, all Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) across the country shut down and Clinical Commissioning Groups are set-up in their place.
Why do the government feel that GP-led organisations are a better idea than Primary Care Trusts?
The idea behind this government decision is that GPs are the people who have the most face-to-face communication with the people of Salford and therefore have the greatest understanding of what the population actually wants and needs. They therefore believe that GPs are in a better position to make the best decisions on how the money should be spent.
Weren't NHS Salford making good achievements in improving the city's health? If so, why close them down?
In 2010, NHS Salford was rated as the second best primary care trust in the country - highlighting how successful they have been. Not all PCTs had achieved this kind of success and therefore the government felt that national changes were needed.
Many elements of NHS Salford, i.e. the majority of their systems and procedures, have been adopted by Salford CCG.
Was this government announcement expected?
Back in 2007 NHS Salford and the local GPs came to the conclusion (three years before the government) that it would benefit the people of Salford if the local GPs had greater control of budgets and decisions. Since 2008, there have been a group of staff and GPs working together to get this way of working off the ground, but always with the PCT in the background as support. Therefore, when the government announcement was made in 2010, this was not an entirely a new concept for the healthcare staff within Salford. The proposed government deadlines just meant that Salford CCG had to scale up their ideas and get things moving a bit quicker than they had originally planned.
What are Salford CCG's main priorities over the first few years?
Salford CCG's main priority is to continue providing the same high-quality care that has been available in Salford and wherever possible improve it even further.
Where will Salford CCG be focusing their resources?
Although it goes without saying that we will continue to make our patient's better should they ever need treatment, Salford CCG recognise that prevention is better than cure! Rather than waiting until people are ill and then treating them, they will be focusing a lot of their resources on trying to stop people getting sick in the first place. This is especially true in a society where people are now living longer.
How do Salford CCG plan on doing this?
Mainly by trying to change the way people behave with regards to their choices in drinking, smoking, obesity due to lack of exercise and food choices, and so on. If Salford CCG can raise the awareness of the problems that these lifestyle choices can lead to, hopefully they can reduce the number of people suffering from heart attacks, strokes, cancer and other similar life-threatening illnesses. Although Salford CCG appreciates that many organisations and departments within the NHS have already made great in roads into raising this kind of awareness, they still feel that there is a lot of work to be done locally. Salford CCG truly believe that they can make a real difference.
Is it true that some areas of Salford are much healthier, with people having a much higher life expectancy, than other areas in Salford?
Yes. This is what is referred to as 'health inequalities' across the city. However, Salford CCG have plans in place to try and reduce these inequalities in the future. For example, it has been found that people who live in some areas of Salford seem to be more aware of what health services are available in their area and are keen to make the most of them, whereas in other parts of Salford, the same services are available, but are not being used at all. Salford CCG's aim is to make a real push on ensuring everyone knows what services are out there for them in terms of clinics, advice session, social or support groups and make sure they know how to access them. This way they hope that by having better advice on how to stay healthy - all of the people within Salford will be able to make more appropriate lifestyle choices, reducing their chances of becoming ill and therefore living longer.
What other big challenges will Salford CCG be facing?
As with all public and private sector companies, the recession has meant that services are being expected to make improvements, but that these changes should be made with no extra (or in many cases - less) money to spend.
Their job will be to try to work out the difference between what people actually need, and what they want. At times they may have to make the difficult choice of rejecting applications for certain drugs or elective surgeries. However, they will always balance these difficult choices against the risk that one day they might be asked to fund a life-threatening surgery or drug and there may be no money left to pay for it.
All of this sounds like a massive challenge for a relatively new and small organisation. How will you be approaching this?
Salford CCG recognises that the only way they will succeed is if they work in partnership with Salford City Council, Salford Royal and other local healthcare partners. Together, they have all formed the 'Salford Health and Wellbeing Board' which is enabling them to make sure that any decisions on health-related matters are made in a co-ordinated and integrated fashion on behalf of the people of Salford.
Salford Health and Wellbeing Board have already set up several exciting city-wide projects, including one called 'Making Every Contact Count', where they are training thousands of people across Salford to be able to offer basic health advice to others and another called the 'Way to Wellbeing Portal', a web-site that is due to launch later this year. This will be a one-stop virtual-shop for local people to access information about health services in Salford and get advice if they need it.
Is it true that the CCG wants to privatise the NHS?
Salford CCG is committed to the ethos of the NHS and is very fortunate to have strong working partnerships with our local NHS providers. However, occasionally these local NHS organisations may not always be able to provide the type of service our population needs or have enough capacity to provide adequate and timely care for our patients. In these situations we might consider seeking an alternative provider, keeping the best interest of patients at heart.