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Seizing the future

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Clinicians at the Trust believe the proposed changes will improve the quality of care patients receive, and make sure that services remain safe and sustainable.

Benefits that patients will see include:

better access to a specialist – because specialist consultants are spread thinly across three sites, patients don’t always see an expert in their condition. Bringing specialists together on two sites will cut the number of ‘single handed’ specialists and improve access to these specialists which means better outcomes for patients. The changes the Trust is proposing will also make it easier to recruit and retain staff

reduced risk of cancelled operations – by separating planned care and emergency care on different sites, it will enable improved management of both types of care meaning fewer planned admissions cancelled to make space for emergency admissions

reduced risk of hospital acquired infections such as MRSA – separating planned and emergency care and increased screening at the planned care centre will also reduce the risk of cross-infection

better rehabilitation after being ill – the planned Rehabilitation Centre of Excellence at Bishop Auckland would be a brand new development for the area. It would mean that patients would have intensive support from physiotherapists and other key healthcare professionals, therefore speeding up and improving their recovery. This will particularly benefit patients following stroke, hip fractures, amputations and other conditions that benefit from specialist rehabilitation

quicker tests and diagnosis – the changes will help the Trust provide more tests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, meaning fewer delays for patients while in hospital

being on the ward best suited to your needs – ensuring the best quality care from experienced staff.

Five pledges for change

Professor Lord Darzi sets out in Better Health Better Care how, where necessary, the NHS can change through leadership of clinicians and the support of patients and the communities in which they live. The review recommends five pledges to demonstrate the commitment to delivering the most effective changes possible.

  • Change will always be to the benefit of patients. The changes proposed in this public consultation are about ensuring services are safe and sustainable and that they improve continuously so that they meet ever increasing quality standards and improve results for patients.
  • Change will be clinically driven. Seizing the Future has been led by senior consultant staff, supported by fellow doctors, nurses, therapists and other healthcare staff, and is based upon the best clinical evidence.
  • All change will be locally-led. Different places have different and changing needs. The proposals in Seizing the Future are local solutions to local issues.
  • You will be involved. The local NHS will involve patients, carers, the public and other key partners. County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has involved its elected governors in all of its discussions, and has sought the views of Trust members. Key stakeholders in the NHS and social care, and local authorities have also been involved in discussions.
  • You will see the difference first. Existing services will not be withdrawn until new and better services are available to patients so they can see the difference.

‘NHS Next Stage Review – leading local change.’

Travel and transport

As a result of patients having greater choice, many patients already travel further than their local hospital for treatment. This trend will continue.

A key consideration for some patients, particularly older people or people without their own transport, is how to get to hospital.

Under the principle of ‘centralised where necessary, localised where possible’, all outpatient clinics and diagnostic tests (eg X-rays and other scans) would still be provided at all three sites. This would keep travel to a minimum.

Where services need to be centralised, Options A and B would both lead to a small number of patients having increased travel times. On average this would be less than 15 minutes by private transport or 30 minutes by public transport.

Work has been done to identify which local areas have difficulty with access to the hospitals by public transport and NHS County Durham and the Trust will focus on these when developing their transport solutions.

Work is also being carried out with Durham County Council’s integrated transport unit to develop a service similar to that currently being provided in East Durham.

The East Durham Hospital Link provides information and access to transport through a single contact number. People who need to visit hospital for an appointment or to visit a friend or relative may ring up, and depending on their needs are booked onto the non-emergency ambulance service, directed to an existing public transport service (PTS) or booked onto a special transport service provided to areas with poor public transport provision.

Patients may use concessionary passes and expenses can be reclaimed under the normal eligibility criteria.

In an emergency, patients are transported by ‘blue light’ ambulances where necessary, and many patients use patient transport to take them to and from hospital. NHS County Durham is investing more than £600,000 in emergency ambulance transport to improve services in the Weardale and Teesdale areas. This will mean two additional emergency ambulances with full paramedic cover able to respond and manage the most acutely ill patients more effectively.

NHS County Durham and the Trust are working closely with the North East Ambulance Service to assess the impact of the potential changes on both A&E and Patient Transport Services. All NHS organisations are committed to ensuring existing performance standards and service quality are maintained.

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