Sussex Together is the programme by which local doctors, nurses and therapists are leading the change that will ensure services are high quality, safe, and designed to meet the needs of the local population for years to come.
Through Sussex Together all parts of the local NHS are working jointly with partners, including local authorities and Local Involvement Networks (LINks), to make the best use of the £2.6bn health budget Sussex receives each year.
We know that the £2.6bn budget will stay roughly the same over the next few years. We also know that the cost of drugs and new technology will increase, and the demand for services will rise due to an ageing population and more people living with long term conditions.
As an indicator of the size of the task ahead Sussex Together identified that unless we work differently we will face a financial challenge between April 2012 and 2014 of some £440m in order to release sufficient funds to meet rising demand and rising costs within available resources. Of course this isn’t a one-off exercise. To maintain an affordable NHS that continues to meet the health needs of the population we need a way of working together which refocuses resources on an ongoing basis for the foreseeable future.
We can only address this challenge by working together with our partners, patients, the public and staff to do things very differently from the way they have been done before.
Sussex Together is about improving communication and coordination between services and professionals across organisational boundaries, supporting the sharing of best practice. In many areas teams can learn from each other and develop an agreed approach and standards for care which can be applied across Sussex.
Through Sussex Together we have identified areas whereby working in this way we can deliver even better, safer patient care whilst keeping spending within what is available for Sussex.
What’s happening now?
At a series of clinical summits our clinical leaders identified some broad areas of care that could benefit from this approach. In the first instance we focussed on care of frail and elderly people, planned care, unscheduled care, dementia care and other specialist areas which includes medicines management and maternity and paediatric services.
Keep your eye on this webpage for information about how we are improving each of these areas and more.
An example – improving services for frail and elderly people
The growing number of older people is something we all recognise in Sussex, where we have one of the most elderly populations in England.
This is a tribute to the quality of life - and care - in this part of the world but it comes at a price. Living longer often means living alone, frequently with complicated medical treatments for more than one condition (such as heart disease, diabetes or arthritis). Living longer in your own home also may require increasing amounts of help with social needs such as dressing or with chores. In addition advances in medical technologies and care mean a wider range of treatments is available than ever before.
The way the NHS was organised 60 years ago, with separate ‘general’ hospitals, primary (GP) care and independent social services, whilst well suited to the population at the time, was not designed to care for the population we now have.
As a result we sometimes see people being admitted to hospital because there isn’t the right treatment available nearer their home, or staying in hospital for too long whilst awaiting equipment or social help to be arranged.
We are doing something about that right now. We are working more closely with partners to make sure our services are joined up around the needs of each patient.