Patients and members of the public from across the Stafford and Stone area came together on 10 July to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS and hear of future plans for improved healthcare.
The occasion was the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of NHS Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group. The event was held at Staffordshire Place in Stafford.
Stafford GP Dr Paddy Hannigan, Chair of the CCG, detailed the history of the NHS and outlined the key achievements, from foundation in 1948, to early immunisation successes to the introduction of MRI and CT scans and the development of screening programmes.
Dr Hannigan said: “There has been a huge march in how we do things since I first became a doctor in 1985. We have moved from being a largely reactive service into being far more preventative.
“I’m very keen we take a world view of the NHS and recent reports have judged it to be the most efficient healthcare organisation in the world, and there has been a huge increase in life expectancy. The challenge now is to ensure people have better health for longer.”
Dr Hannigan also outlined how the development of one commissioning team covering Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire will improve services for patients. He then talked about how the revolution in digital technology is helping the NHS meet the demands of rising demand, empowering patients to manage long term conditions, greatly enabling more patients to share their views and experiences via social media, and helping clinicians share information in new ways.
Marcus Warnes, the CCGs’ Accountable Officer spoke of key priorities for the next 12 months. Chief among these is the improvement of services for older people with complex health needs and the need for better end-of-life care.
He also gave an update on the work of the Together We’re Better partnership that brings together all organisations in Staffordshire that are responsible for delivering health and care.
Dr Rowena Milligan spoke about newly introduced patient safety toolkits while Dr Mark Stone also gave a presentation on the important clinical research work that is being carried out in local GP practices, with 12 practices in the district currently participating in NHS clinical studies and Keele University being one of five medical research schools in England.
Dr Stone said: “The most important message is that medical research is everybody’s future and is a core part of the NHS. Patient participation is key, with patients now actively able to look for studies in their area and get involved with studies if they relate to their condition.”
There were questions from the public on a range of subjects including GP vacancies in the area; the impact on patient care of the need to achieve savings; Staffordshire’s spending per patient compared to the national average; management and estate costs; tackling inappropriate presentations at A&E.