Getting to a set of outcomes that matter to local people isn’t a one off conversation. It’s an iterative process, fashioned by an open dialogue with local people to understand the things that they value most when receiving care. Recently in Herefordshire, I was fortunate to sit in on a town hall event where public and patient groups spoke further about the outcomes they want to see when dealing with an urgent or unexpected health incident.
What became clear early on was that there’s a consensus about what’s important to people. With the same themes being asked for there’s a moral commitment by the commissioner to listen and take the feedback into a final outcomes framework against which the organisations who deliver services in the future will be contractually responsible for delivering.
People spoke of wanting access to a trusted healthcare professional who has knowledge of their medical history and of their local area. There was preference for this to be their own GP but there was also willing for it to be another person as long as they had access to medical records, local knowledge, and health and care expertise.
Accessing the most appropriate place for treatment was discussed as something people feel is important. People need easy access to information about services to enable them to make decisions about where the most appropriate setting would be. These services don’t have to be traditional health settings – people are comfortable with using charity, community and the voluntary sector, if they have relevant expertise.
Preventing situations from becoming urgent was identified as vital. Helping people understand more about their conditions so they can better manage symptoms and avoid unnecessary urgent care use.
Patients accessing urgent care settings need to be viewed holistically and consideration given to the factors that perhaps contributed to their urgent or unexpected health event. More involvement with family and carers is essential in providing an overall package of care.
The CCG has invested significant time in its conversation with public and patient groups. It is fully committed to the ‘you said, we did’ dialogue. And it is this very willingness to explore what matters to those receiving care that forms a powerful local mandate that helps them commission better care in the future. They are listening, but vitally are acting too.