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The Medical Director for the NHS in England has heaped praise on staff working across health services in Dorset – and urged other NHS organisations to follow their example of joined-up working to achieve better patient care.
Sir Bruce Keogh, who is also the Medical Director for NHS Commissioning Board (NHS England), made the comments following a visit to both acute and community hospitals in Dorset.
Sir Bruce visited The Royal Bournemouth Hospital to learn more about the way Dorset health care providers have joined up stroke services, and how Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group is proposing to improve acute hospital care by providing emergency and planned care at two separate sites (Bournemouth and Poole).
He then visited Weymouth Community Hospital, run by Dorset HealthCare, and was taken on a tour of the community urgent care centre. He also heard about the integrated care hub in nearby Westhaven Community Hospital. Both were opened last year to promote closer working between local GPs, NHS Trusts and councils, with more seamless care for patients
Dorset is currently at the forefront of providing better care for local people after being named as a pilot area for a new joined-up way of working across health, social care and the voluntary sector.
People with a number of long-term health conditions currently have to deal with numerous parts of the health and social care system, which is confusing for them and doesn’t always lead to the best outcomes for their health.
But in Dorset work is already underway to co-locate professionals in hubs which allow them to work closely together to support the patient in the best way.
Speaking to staff at Weymouth Community Hospital, Sir Bruce said: “I feel the urgent care centre and integrated care hub here in Weymouth provide us with a real glimpse of the future for the NHS. If we could emulate this with the same joined up, enthusiastic approach staff have in Dorset, we would be in a great position nationally.
“There is clear evidence that through the way services are delivered here, not only are fewer people going to hospital, but we are providing a service that gets them out quicker, which is truly inspiring.
“So often organisations across the NHS fight to the detriment of patients, but this is the opposite here in Dorset, which is encouraging.
“The real lesson here is common sense, but it takes the right people to lead the change – and that is what distinguishes health care in Dorset from most other areas in England.”
Dorset has been announced as one of eight areas nationally to introduce ‘accountable care systems’ (ACSs), which aim to integrate all parts of the health and care system including GPs, hospitals, community care and social care as well as joining up physical and mental health services.