New approaches to managing and providing care in South Somerset have received national backing today, in an announcement by NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens.
A partnership of organisations, led by Yeovil Hospital, with Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, local GPs, and Somerset County Council, submitted a bid to NHS England in February to become a Vanguard site, outlining a range of innovative developments that will make it easier than ever before for local patients to receive the care and support they need.
Today’s announcement makes South Somerset the only Vanguard site in the South West, and one of just 29 successful sites chosen from a field of 269.
At the heart of the partnership’s aspirations is closer working between GPs, the hospital, community staff, and social workers, with staff sharing expertise, resources and information to provide easier, swifter access to the right care, and help avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital. The plans could also see the development of a single-budget and a single approach to commissioning care for the population of South Somerset.
Somerset’s older population is already significantly higher than the national average which places a greater demand upon services. Local research indicates that 50 per cent of NHS resources are used to care for just four per cent of the local population, so the partnership’s plans will see specialist networks of services developed to care for those with the most complex needs.
Being chosen as a Vanguard site means we are among just 29 projects in the country which are leading the way in the development of a more effective, more collaborative, and more patient-centred NHS, as described in the NHS Five Year Forward View published last year.
As well as having increased access to national support, being a Vanguard site will enable the partnership to bid for additional transformation monies to realise the local plans.
Paul Mears, Chief Executive for Yeovil Hospital said:
“The demand on local care services during this winter, and the challenges we have all faced in trying to meet that demand, demonstrate very clearly that we need to think differently.
“The future that we described in our Vanguard bid is one in which every key component of the local care system is able to plan, act and react to local needs together, making the best possible use of our shared resources and of the wealth of local expertise, experience and intelligence.
“With the formal backing of NHS England, our focus now is to make our aspirations a reality and start implementing changes which will provide our population with access to exceptional, safe and sustainable care services.”
Such innovative ideas are not new in Somerset: in February the first Symphony Care Hub opened in Yeovil Hospital as a pilot for supporting 200 people living with multiple, complex conditions. The Hub brings together a team of GPs, and specialist care workers whose role it is to help patients access the most appropriate care, and retain their independence.
Dr Matthew Dolman, Chairman of Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), welcomed the news of the successful Vanguard bid, saying: "This successful bid and national support is great news for the people of South Somerset. Somerset CCG anticipates that the learning and experience from the South Somerset Vanguard scheme will help inform and evolve the new models of care we hope to see extended across the whole of the county in the next couple of years."
Chair of South Somerset GP Federation, Dr David Cripps, said:
“As a Vanguard site we have crucial national backing for our plans to develop integrated, more accessible and more agile care services for our population, including some of our most vulnerable patients.
“We’re looking forward to furthering these plans with our partners over the coming months.”
Cllr William Wallace, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “Close working between health and social care is going to be fundamental to managing the future care pressures that authorities across the country are working hard to address.
“We have already made progress towards this but Vanguard status gives all the organisations involved help in driving this work forward and hopefully help unlock funding to support it.”
Joint media release from:
Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group
South Somerset GP Federation
Somerset County Council