Range of health services to benefit from additional investment

A variety of projects across south Cumbria and north Lancashire will be supported by national investment in the Better Care Together Strategy (BCT), which was awarded £4.29m in October as part of Vanguard funding from NHS England.

Since the announcement, investment has been agreed for the following areas:

  • £439,450 in projects focusing on North Lancashire out of hospital care
  • £714,500 in projects focusing on South Cumbria out of hospital care
  • £215,443 in Maternity and Children’s services
  • £440,604 in Planned Care redesign projects
  • £1,001,052 In Information Technology (IT)

There will also be a number of smaller projects and support for the programme funded from the allocation.

One of the main investment areas for IT involve installing high definition video conferencing facilities in GP practices allowing GPs to liaise with other healthcare professionals in real time, enabling some remote diagnosis which might otherwise require the patient to go to hospital.

John Howarth, Director of Service Improvement for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust on the IMT projects said “Our pilot project in Millom has shown that better use of technology will have real benefits to our patients. The people of Millom travel more than 1 million miles out of the town every year for appointments. Between now and next April we are connecting up Millom using high definition video screens to deliver far more care locally. An example is the live video link from the GP consulting room into A&E which will allow rapid specialist advice when needed. By working more closely together between the health providers and the community itself over the last year the people of Millom have travelled 130,000 fewer miles for care. This is just the beginning – we aim to deliver far more specialist care locally using technology”.

Projects in out of hospital care in south Cumbria and north Lancashire are focused on bringing more services into the community, providing people with the right care, closer to home. Some of this work revolves around creating healthy communities, such as promoting better working links between volunteers and local communities. In Carnforth we recently held a health champions event, which aims to promote health and wellbeing across the community, preventative care is a top priority for us.

George Dingle, a GP in Garstang comments on North Lancashire initiatives “We now have two Care Co-ordinators in post in the Garstang area, who are working actively with the local hospital trusts to improve communications and patient referrals. This means our patients who have complex health needs travel less often as the care is co-ordinated around them”.

Hugh Reeve, Interim Chief Clinical Officer NHS Cumbria CCG says “Progress continues in the development of Integrated Care Communities in South Cumbria, these communities will see care teams made up of staff from across health and social care work together, rather than treat individual symptoms or illnesses. This work has been developed from our experiences with the successes in Millom”.

The Rapid Access Clinic (RAC) project for Childrens’ services is being piloted as part of the Womens’ and Childrens’ workstream. RAC is designed to ensure children who would have been referred into the hospital for an acute assessment (for example by their GP or via A&E) are seen in by a paediatric consultant in a planned outpatient setting. This will reduce pressure on the inpatient service, this project aims to deliver access to senior consultants, in line with ensuring the patient is seen by the right person, at the right time and at the right place. This project is just part of the changes to streamline children’s hospitals and would work alongside projects aiming to bring appointments into the community and telehealth triage services.

Dr Salman Imran, Consultant Paediatrician for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, said “We hope that with this change the patient journey is least stressful, child friendly and fruitful whilst avoiding any chances of cross infection. This project will address some added pressures and make the service more responsive to our children and their families.”

The focus in Planned Care (which includes any schedules care across the NHS, such as outpatients or surgery) focuses on making access easier for the patient. In some cases this would mean accessing appointments in community based clinics, for example hospital consultants running a clinic in a GP surgery.

Karen Donaldson, Clinical lead for South Lakes Community Respiratory Service Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust says “Working closely with colleagues from Better Care Together, we are developing exciting new pathways. We want patients to get the right care, at the time and at the right place, bringing health care
closer to people’s homes.”


Notes to editors:
1. For further information, please contact the communications team on 01524 518638 or by email as indicated above.
2. Better Care Together is a partnership of eleven organisations, including Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the North West Ambulance Service, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group and the two Local Authorities: Cumbria County Council and Lancashire County Council and two GP Provider Federations: North Lancashire Medical Group and South Cumbria Primary Care Collaborative working together in partnership.
3. Clinical leaders from across all organisations have designed a new clinical model of care for Morecambe Bay, through a series of design workshops and clinical. The new care models have been strongly influenced by the wide ranging engagement with stakeholders which has taken place over the past two years.