Monday, June 16, 2008

Pathways to Healthcare

As residents know, the health service in this area has been looking at changes to hospital provision for several years. The latest scheme involves building one new hospital to serve Hartlepool, Stockton and parts of Easington and Sedgefield, closing both North Tees and Hartlepool hospitals and having a lot more services available "in the community". Of course that phrase means different things to different people and in different circumstances so there's much debate about what sort of clinics, health centres or hospitals are needed and where.
Over the last couple of weeks leaflets have been distributed in doctors' surgeries, with free papers, in dentists' waiting rooms, hospitals, council buildings and everywhere anyone could think of leaving them. There's a questionnaire included but if yours has been chewed up by the dog or coloured in by the toddler there are plenty more available! It's a way of having your say about where you think services should be located, what you think is important about the new services and where you think the new hospital should be built.
Today there was a "summit" consultation and I was there as a representative of the Western Area Partnership Board. The discussion was very animated and well informed because everyone there was involved in some way or another - patients, doctors, nurses, NHS support and managerial staff, carers, councillors and others. We were all passionate about trying to ensure that what we have in 5 or 10 years time is better than what we have now, not just in terms of the buildings but in terms of how patients are treated. What was really interesting to me on a personal level was just how much agreement there was when people could discuss general principles. Clinicians were able to admit that things don't always run smoothly, that care isn't as good as it could be at times, that people are discharged or admitted too soon sometimes. If what was said today really is listened to then the service will improve, but we shall see.
It was particularly appropriate for me today, following my recent experience of hospital care and discharge procedures for my mother-in-law. And it was very interesting to have professionals telling me what should have happened!
So, if you haven't already had your say do go to the Momentum website and complete the questionnaire or e-mail them if you've got comments that don't fit on the form. Don't say in 10 years time that it should have been done differently (unless of course you've had your suggestions ignored!)

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