Commissioning – no more time to bereave, so move on and accept!

Conference season is fast becoming conference year, with yet another healthcare event opening its door this week in the form of the Commissioning Show.

The show, which claimed it would attract more than 3,000 GPs (around 2793 ‘healthcare professionals’ attended last year), had possibly the widest array of exhibitors of anyUKhealthcare event so far. From charities to tech companies, consultancies to government bodies, pharma to recruitment and health and well- being, the organisers appeared to get virtually every base covered in terms of the services that the future CCGs might need as they start their journey.

Equally, it managed to concisely identify several of the pain points that the NHS faces, with conference streams placing a strong focus on long term conditions, where speakers including Dr Paul Lovell, urgent care clinical lead for NHS Devon, aimed to offer commissioners real solutions for delivering services in their locality.

Integrated care, was also top of the agenda, where the focus was on providing examples of how organisations have used multidisciplinary teams, including work with nurses, social care and mental health services, to create joint working initiatives.

And of course, there was a stream centred around productivity through technology, a stream which was formed due to a recent survey by the organsiers showing that over a quarter of GPs believed innovative use of technology would be one of the most effective solutions to improving productivity and patient care.

Other streams included ‘facilitating healthcare solutions’ which provided a mix of workshops and topical discussion, as well as ‘health and well-being boards’ focused on cases of successful early joint working between local authorities/health and well-being boards and healthcare organisations.

But what were the key messages from the show? Well, it cannot be denied that Lansley was loud and clear that the reforms are here to stay (even if he is not) and that they are already taking shape.

Much like Sir David Nicholson’s comparison of people’s attitudes to the Health and Social Care Act being similar to the three stages of bereavement (feelings of denial, then anger through to gradual acceptance), Lansley pursued a similar line. He quoted the philosopher Schopenhauer and said: “All truth is ridiculed, then violently opposed, then accepted as self-evident.”

In his first speech since he personally placed South London Healthcare Trust into administration, applying the failure regime for NHS trusts for the first time, he said that the transition would be tough but he promised to back commissioners if they had to take politically tough, local decisions about poorly performing hospitals or other care settings.

On top of that he said commissioners would have no legacy debts when they became fully operational in April 2013, and promised that there would be no top slicing of CCG budgets by the National Commissioning Board.

Lansley’s final words were powerful, if not to the NHS attendees then to the 100’s of suppliers that lined the Olympia exhibition floor, “Do not only think of the immediate difficulties but of the opportunities ahead.”

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