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Major improvements to healthcare planned as new board reveals its vision
Thursday 27th June, 2013

Health services face major changes under plans revealed by the new board in charge of healthcare in Wigan Borough.

Members of the local Health and Wellbeing Board met for the first time on 5th June and agreed an integrated care plan to improve how people are cared for in the borough.

Councillor Keith Cunliffe, who is chair of the Wigan Health and Wellbeing Board and Wigan Council cabinet member for health and social care, said:

“We’ve got to face up to the challenges of the future. We have a significantly ageing population and this trend will accelerate in the years to come. We also have significant health challenges in certain parts of the borough. With huge national reductions in the budgets available for local services the challenges are bigger than ever. But we have an ambitious and positive plan to transform local health, care and wellbeing services right across Wigan Borough.”

This positive local plan will see a joining up of health, social care and wellbeing services so that local people will receive seamless care in the best locations in our communities. Better coordination of care will ensure people only have to tell their story once, rather than repeat it to different professionals in different settings. The changes will see GPs at the heart of this coordinated care with services and treatment planned with the individual, their families and carers in a more accessible way than it has ever happened before. A key aim is to prevent people being admitted to hospital by investing in the things that keep people healthy. But when local people need urgent care they will be able to rely on rapid access to high quality care in hospital and be part of the planning process for appropriate discharge from hospital with all the support needed to stop people having to be re-admitted.

Cllr Cunliffe said: “There’s a lot of pressure on our hospitals, particularly our Accident and Emergency wards. We know things need to change, and providing more care in the community will save money and free our hospitals up to focus on specialist care and ensuring the quality is right. A big part of the future will be diagnosing health issues early and ensuring patients get the right care so we prevent health problems developing. This is why having integrated teams in the community with a variety of services working together is so important.”

The aim of the board’s vision is to improve health outcomes for local people, improve people’s experience of health and social care across the borough and reduce the demands on local services through better prevention. The board agreed to ensure the changes take place and that local services are built around its vision.

Wigan’s Health and Wellbeing Board was set up as part of the government’s NHS reforms. It is brought together by Wigan Council and its members including senior representatives from Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group, all local NHS trusts, and the independent local watchdog HealthWatch.

Dr Tim Dalton, deputy chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board and Chair of Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This was the first meeting of the Board and I’m delighted we have come up with such an ambitious and important plan for the future of healthcare in Wigan Borough.

“We can’t bury our heads in the sand. We have to change the way we offer care because we need to prepare for the already changing population, ensure our services will deliver the optimal care people need, while being mindful of increasing budget constraints.

"I think this plan increases the quality of care and will make services better. It will improve the general wellbeing of residents and patients, (and) will respond to changing healthcare demands while supporting our local hospital to continue to offer the services our patients need.”

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