West Cornwall’s GPs should enjoy increased support in their plans to shape healthcare in the area and a much greater say in decision-making.
That is one of the key recommendations from a report put together by a panel of independent constituents who are passionate about healthcare and who, for the past three months, have been taking part in an inquiry initiated by West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas.
The panel has met with more than two dozen health professionals and campaigners, seeking their views on the best way forward for health and social care in West Cornwall and the resulting report has now been submitted for consideration by the emerging Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly.
How best to integrate health and social care services and ensure that services are delivered close to home has been one of the areas that the panel has looked at and they want GPs in Penwith to be able to deliver the Locality Plan they have already drawn up.
In addition the report calls on NHS managers to ensure that all the rural surgeries in West Cornwall are retained and that West Cornwall and St Michael’s hospitals maintain their current sub-acute status, West Cornwall as an Urgent Care centre and St Michael’s as a centre for elective orthopaedic and breast surgery.
The report recommends that Edward Hain Community hospital is reopened as soon as possible and that a feasibility study is launch to consider how a brand new, purpose-built Health and Social Care Hub, similar to many others around the UK, could be built in Penwith.
“Speaking to the doctors and nurses who are providing health services on the ground, everyone on the panel was struck by their commitment to ensuring that patients receive the best possible care and their optimism that, despite the challenges, services can improve in the future,” Mr Thomas said.
“What came across strongly at our meetings was the need for local health professionals to be allowed to get on with making the changes they want to make without the heavy hand of NHS bureaucracy getting in the way.
“People working in healthcare in West Cornwall have some great ideas about how to improve services and they should be allowed to get on with the job.”
The inquiry has also made recommendations to the STP about care at home, in particular with regard to addressing the difficulties there are in recruiting and retaining care and support workers.
In addition, the issue of funding health services is covered as is the importance of directing people to the right place for treatment.
A full West Cornwall Health Inquiry report will be published and made available during March.
After the council elections in May local NHS managers will be setting out how they intend to integrate health and care services.