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Blog: ‘Friend requests’


30 August 2012

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The 2012 Summer of Sport will end somewhat abruptly for CCGs, with wave one going through the final phase of authorisation – the site visit – this September.

But the sun is still shining in Leeds, albeit metaphorically, as the chatter from the NHS Commissioning Board is all about relationships.

The 2012 Summer of Sport will end somewhat abruptly for CCGs, with wave one going through the final phase of authorisation – the site visit – this September.

But the sun is still shining in Leeds, albeit metaphorically, as the chatter from the NHS Commissioning Board is all about relationships.

It seems that this is how CCGs in their early days will be judged – how many friends they have. There is some other stuff too like 119 criteria to meet in the shape of 19 documents, but woe betide the CCG that hasn't befriended their brothers and sisters in the local authority and patient groups.

Some areas have even created new roles, relationship managers, to help deliver this integration. It all seems a bit lightweight but on further reflection, nothing gets done where people don't communicate and don't get on.

An interview earlier this week with the clinical director of integration at University College London Hospital (UCLH), Professor Mike Roberts, revealed that there are some very basic needs that GPs have which a co-operative hospital is able to provide.

These include the ability to phone a registrar for an instant answer to a complex medical question, and to have an email address for a specialist department where queries can be answered within 24 hours.

This seems to be straightforward stuff which may save the patient the inconvenience of a referral, why hasn't it been done before?

But then I get a glimpse into the world of red tape and legalities – clinicians can't answer the phone during outpatient clinics, so rotas have to be sorted out – how is it recorded, how is it priced, who will have access to it and who is accountable when a doctor gives advice to a patient they haven't seen?

All of this has to be got round and UCLH are actually finding it possible.

Just getting clinicians to talk to each other and work together across primary and secondary care seems to be revealing better ways of treating patients. It's surprising they didn't do more of it before.

Although there is a lot of uncertainty in the NHS right now over who will be working where in the next six months, it does seem that one of the aims of the reforms –  getting clinicians to talk to each other – is actually happening.

So we just have to wait to see if those relationships blossom and result in true integration and ultimately better, more cost effective care for patients.

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