Back to Blog

Really Healthier Together?

Whenever change occurs, it is perhaps naturally accompanied by a degree of resistance.

Having become familiar with the way that things had operated, some people feel reluctant to change, unsure about what the future may hold.

However, if that change promises real improvement, such as in the standard of healthcare provided to you and I, it's sometimes important to be patient and see if bold, positive plans match practice before coming to a definitive judgement.

Last week was a momentous one for healthcare in Greater Manchester with the approval by NHS commissioners of proposals to restructure provision across the county.

Under the initiative, four hospitals will work as 'specialist' centres, dealing with emergency or high risk surgery.

Six other sites have been designated 'general local hospitals', offering treatments which are considered less of a clinical priority.

The programme has been developed by local councils and health service managers working in tandem and is entitled 'Healthier Together', aiming to present patients with a joined-up NHS.

It's due to begin operation by the end of this year, giving time for the recruitment of additional consultants to help ensure cover across the entire week rather than just Monday to Friday.

Anything which can raise the kind of healthcare which people receive is surely to be welcomed. That the Greater Manchester scheme was given the green light at the same time as the Health Secretary was setting out his determination to introduce seven-day working for new consultants was maybe no coincidence either.

I hate to sound a worried note but suggestions have emerged that the 'specialist' units will start their new roles before improvements to primary care are also put in place throughout the region.

One of the officials behind the 'Healthier Together' project has, in fact, described primary care as being "40 per cent covered".

A regular theme in many of the cases which I and my colleagues in JMW's Clinical Negligence team handle is that of consistency of care. With no evenly high standards of treatment - between different parts of the NHS or between different doctors and nurses working on the same ward - patient safety can be compromised. Mistakes can and, sadly, do occur.

'Healthier Together' has been designed to be a comprehensive programme, benefitting the lives of those who quite rightly expect good treatment from the NHS.

That is something which I believe to be progress.

Even so, if the potential of the scheme is to be truly realised, then joined-up healthcare should really be joined-up, with no part of the NHS lagging behind the other and creating the possibility of mistakes happening.

Only when all parts of the service are moving forward at the same speed and with the same effort and attention can patients be genuinely assured of the chance of being 'Healthier Together'.

Share this