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CCG Series: 100 days as Torbay CCG


3 July 2013

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We have just finished the Village Festival to celebrate our new Village Green, and, despite the weather, it has been a great success. Organising it has been immensely complicated, involving talking to many existing groups around the village. The actual fair included the traditional elements involved in a village fete with other more unusual/novel events… Which got me thinking. 

We have just finished the Village Festival to celebrate our new Village Green, and, despite the weather, it has been a great success. Organising it has been immensely complicated, involving talking to many existing groups around the village. The actual fair included the traditional elements involved in a village fete with other more unusual/novel events… Which got me thinking. 
Approach our first 100 days as a CCG, I’ve noted how similar the challenges we face are. As a new organisation we have had get to grips with building relationships with many organisations: our GP membership, other commissioners in health and social care, our provider organisations and the voluntary sector, as well as our patients and our public. We have realised that without these relationships we cannot achieve success as an organisation, just as without talking to all the village groups our festival would not have achieved its aims. 
Just as the weather presented a challenge for the festival, our reformed health care system has been trying to progress in a difficult environment; urgent care, section 251, NHS 111, CQC revelations and growing financial pressures all seem to conspire to derail our ambitions in one way or another.
We are fortunate in my area to not only have a hospital which meets its A&E 95% target but an effective GP-led out of hours service. Yet we are still seeing the tremendous pressure all over the system at primary, community and secondary care level from the burgeoning demand. How on earth can we hope to address this? First and foremost we have to acknowledge that this is a system-wide issue; we cannot lay the 'blame' on any single factor such as the GP contract, the shortage of A&E doctors or societal expectations. Neither is the answer simple. Only by making this a shared solution can we hope to make any headway. The scapegoat concept has no place in my vision of the future NHS. 
And this has to be more than mere words. To use another festival analogy, my contribution was to perform in a play involving werewolves, seemingly charming and friendly people who, in certain conditions, transform into snarling beasts. Organisations can be like this –  behave in one way, but in times of pressure, revert to other, less helpful ways of working. This may not be planned or intentional but can be very destructive nonetheless. 
Our challenge as new and existing organisations is to build relationships and trust between ourselves so the solutions can be as bold as we dare or need to be.
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If your CCG has something to share, don't hesitate to contact Lalah-Simone Springer (lalahspringer@campden.com) for more information on contributing to the CCG Series
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