Head of new organisation overseeing West Lancashire’s doctors on how controversial healthcare changes will effect patients in the borough
CONTROVERSIAL healthcare changes will lead to a service focused on the issues of patients in West Lancashire, according to the head of a new organisation overseeing the borough’s doctors.
In an exclusive interview with the Advertiser, Dr John Caine, chair of the West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) along with chief officer Mike Maguire, explained the changes to local healthcare that will come into force in April.
Led by the 23 GP practices within West Lancs, the organisation is taking over the responsibility for commissioning healthcare in the borough from NHS Central Lancashire Primary Care Trust.
“This is an opportunity for us to focus more on West Lancashire’s specific issues rather than the shared issues in Chorley or Preston,” said Dr Caine, who has been a practising GP in Parbold since 1991.
“The whole concept is really about GPs having that connection with patients and understanding their needs better perhaps then the managers who were there on their own before.”
The new organisation will be responsible for 112,000 patients and cover the areas of Ormskirk and Skelmersdale, and up to Tarleton and Banks.
The changes are being brought in by the Government, whose overhaul of the NHS system has caused widespread unrest.
Now practitioners – such as GPs and pharmacists – are taking control of a system previously under the influence of healthcare managers.
“The system up to now hasn’t really had a strong GP voice. Its not that the managers were doing it in isolation but it’s the quantity or quality of advice they have got now – it has completely flipped,” said Dr Caine.
“The opportunity is to be a bit more bold, perhaps get things done a little bit more effectively.”
Responding to concerns about privatisation of the NHS, he said: “People worry that everyday services will be privatised.
“You always base decisions on what is the best thing for the patient in front of you.
“You do so as a GP with the knowledge of where the evidence is about that level of care. “You also have at the back of your mind what are the costs to the health service in general.
“But there’s nothing new that’s coming in that’s going to change the fact your GP has these pressures behind him.
“What he’s going to be more conscious of now is the cost, the tax payer’s cost. It makes it easier and does help focus the mind but I don’t think it will change decisions.”
Dr Caine detailed the challenges the new group will face as it seeks to improve health care – including the disparity in life expectancy across the borough.
He said: “One of most noticeable things is the variation in life expectancy. There are affluent and less affluent areas.
“That unfortunately is represented in the disparity in life expectancy and that’s one of the challenges, to address that.”