Patients from across the county took the chance to hear about the current picture in the local NHS and to have their say on future commissioning plans.
The Big Health Conversation was held on Wednesday at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton, hosted by the NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Healthwatch Northamptonshire.
The event looked at the current picture in the local NHS and highlighted some of the challenges it faces, including trying to commission improved patient focused services while dealing with unprecedented challenges.
Some of the challenges highlighted included population growth, with the county experiencing higher growth than the national average; one in seven people in the county being over 65 (a 33 per cent increase in the last decade); public funding pressure with 20 per cent efficiency savings needed by 2014-15; and the fact that if we stay the same, hospital workloads will rise by 50 per cent over the next 30 years.
The rise in demand for healthcare was also discussed.
Between 1992-2012, the number of people attending A&E department at Kettering Hospital has doubled to 80,000 and every 4.5 minutes someone arrives at the A&E department at Northampton Hospital, day and night, 365 days a year.
There are 120 unplanned/urgent appointments made in GP practices approximately every week, and there has been a 45 per cent increase in the number of patients seen by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in two years.
The increase in demand means that the NHS must achieve unprecedented sustained increases in productivity, while at the same time the small increase in NHS budgets for this year is outstripped by increasing demand.
When surveyed, 70 per cent of those who attended the event agreed or strongly agreed that the NHS can no longer continue to provide all services in the same way as it has in the past.
Dr Darin Seiger, chairman of the NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We are delighted with how many people gave up their valuable time to help us make sure that we deliver our vision of ensuring that everyone has the best possible life from beginning to end.
“The whole point of the changes in the NHS was to make sure that local clinicians work together with local patients and members of the public to deliver the best possible health care they can and this event clearly demonstrated that we can do this together.
“We are committed to being a transparent organisation and open and honest about the challenges we face in the NHS.
“We received excellent feedback and suggestions on how we can look to address the issues.
“We spoke about some of our ideas on how we can improve services including bringing more services into the community, closer to home.
“We are delighted that 88 per cent of attendees agreed or strongly agreed that the best place to deliver care is as close to home as possible and safe to do so.
“Even if you could not attend the event we would still like your views, to ensure that we are developing services with the patients views are at the heart.
“You could read more about the challenges we are facing as well as have the opportunity to have your say on our website.”
For more information or to have your say visit www.neneccg.nhs.uk/bigconversation or www.facebook.com/NHSNene.