Jackpot eases strain on health services

Jon Rouse, Chief Officer, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership
Jon Rouse, Chief Officer, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership

Health and social care services in the borough have been given a massive cash injection.

Wigan has been awarded £14.8m from the Greater Manchester Health And Social Care Partnership Transformation Fund.

It will be used to reduce demand on Wigan Infirmary, particularly on its under-pressure A&E, and bring services closer to people’s homes.

The money will be used for 10 projects, including expanding the assessment area at A&E where GPs can send patients; creating seven child care hubs around the borough; integrated teams where health workers can co-ordinate care outside the hospital; consultants going into communities to provide out-patient appointments; team helping patients to be discharged from hospital into social care.

A successful funding application was submitted in October to the £450m Transformation Fund and sees all the local health bodies and the council joining forces for projects aimed at changing health and social care services.

The ambulatory assessment area at A&E will be expanded so more patients can be seen if they have been referred by a GP or have a chronic condition.

Health visitors will be based at the children’s care hubs and go to people’s homes. Meanwhile public health initiative Heart Of Wigan will receive funding to continue its work on heart health.

The new integrated community services (ICS) will receive a share of the money so it can be rolled out from Hindley to the rest of the borough. District nurses, health visitors, social workers and other specialist staff work together to co-ordinate care outside the hospital, planned around the patients’ needs. Money will be spent on encouraging GPs and organisations work better together, the latter through the development of Healthier Wigan, a Wigan borough integrated care organisation that will see services streamlined.

The funding, which needs to be rubber-stamped, runs to March next year and further applications to the Transformation Fund will be made.

Chairman of NHS Wigan Borough CCG Dr Tim Dalton said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding and to be able to inject much-needed funds in to driving forward the innovative transformation of local health and social care services. Patients deserve high-quality care that helps them to live long and healthy lives. This money helps us to fund new, more patient-focused and more integrated services that support patients to be independent.”

Partnership chief officer Jon Rouse said: “Transformation is at the very heart of devolution and the bid from Wigan borough’s health and care organisations demonstrated an unwavering commitment to bring together multiple organisations from across the area to deliver better, more seamless services across the borough.”

Lord Smith, leader of Wigan Council and chairman of the GM Health And Social Care Strategic Partnership Board, said: “In recent years, months and even weeks the strain on the region’s hospitals continues to show, especially at this time of year.

“With an aging population we need to find a long-term solution, not a quick fix to the NHS crisis. These plans aim to provide that solution, to help residents lead healthier lives to prevent them from becoming reliant on health services later on in life.

“In recent years we’ve already seen massive improvements to health in Wigan borough, with far less people smoking and dying prematurely. I’m confident that these programmes of work will aid that ambition, making us a healthier borough.”

WWL chief executive Andrew Foster said: “This successful bid is excellent news for the public in Wigan. It will help us to transform our services so that patients and their carers will be better able to look after themselves, will be better cared for in their own homes by skilled health and care teams and will be less likely to face avoidable hospital admissions.”

Colin Scales, chief executive of Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This funding will support our strong commitment to delivering great integrated care for local people, building on the work that is already underway to transform community health services by working even more closely with our health and social care colleagues to improve out of hospital services for patients.”