Last week I met both the Chief Executive of the Conquest Hospital, Darren Grayson and the Chair of the Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Roger Elias for our regular updates.
Both agreed that locally we have a lot to be proud of and that the quality of care provided by the health service in our area has improved significantly over the last three years.
In many of the key performance indicators such as referral to treatment times, cancer and A&E waiting times, things that really matter to patients, the East Sussex Healthcare Trust is performing really well.
The temporary maternity and paediatric arrangements at the Conquest are also operating well and the number of Caesarean Sections has actually gone down from 23% to 18%, which is a good indicator of the standard of the service.
However, they are very honest about just how tough the challenges ahead will be. The over 65s nationally are now the fastest growing age group in the world, and this is particularly acute in East Sussex.
Within the next decade we will have three million people in the UK - mainly elderly - with three or more complex long term conditions. As the NHS Confederation said last week, this is the main cause of pressure on our A&E departments.
Winter brings extra pressure for the NHS and nowhere is this felt more than in A&E, which is why I was really pleased last week when the Government announced an additional £2.3 million for the East Sussex Healthcare Trust to assist with winter planning and to help the A&E unit deal with extra pressures.
So what else can we do to help ease the pressure on our A&E locally? I think there are three things that we should think about doing that would really help. First, visit your GP early and encourage friends and family to go too. We have excellent GPs locally but there’s nothing they can do to help us if we don’t go to see them when we first suspect something is up. Far too often people leave it too late and then the end up in A&E, when they could have sorted it out, before it got worse, with a visit to their GP. This is particularly relevant to those of us who are over 40, we’re all offered a health MOT every 5 years, and we should use it.
Second, if you’re eligible for the flu vaccine, particularly health workers, then you should take it. For some people flu can be really severe so let’s do what we can to prevent vulnerable people from getting it.
Finally, join the 28 day challenge and stop smoking for October – Stoptober. Although it’s not easy, if you can stop smoking for 28 days you are five times more likely to stay smoke free, and Stoptober leads smokers through a detailed step-by-step programme to help them achieve this goal. Visit www.smokefree.nhs.uk for more information and join the 28 day challenge.
P.S. I’m always keen to hear from constituents about their experience of the health service locally, good or bad if you’ve got a story to tell please do email me at email@example.com