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First meeting in public of new healthcare commissioners in west Kent

By KMCSmedia  |  Posted: February 15, 2013

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The group which is taking over the commissioning of most healthcare in west Kent is holding a meeting in public for the first time.

The governing body of West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which covers the boroughs of Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone and the southern part of Sevenoaks district, is opening its doors to its meeting on 26 February, at the River Centre, Medway Wharf Road, Tonbridge, starting at 1.30pm.

It is a working meeting, where there will be a chance to hear the governing body discuss some of the plans and policies it will be putting into action when it takes over the planning and buying of healthcare in west Kent from 1 April.

There will be 20 minutes at the beginning when people can ask questions.

Dr Bob Bowes, chairman of the CCG, said: "The governing body acts on behalf of the 62 GP practices in our area, which make up the CCG.

"We very much want to use our experience and expertise as doctors, in conjunction with what local people tell us, and working with our NHS partners, to improve services.

"From 1 April we need to hold our governing body meetings in public. In west Kent, we have decided to open up meetings at this early stage, because we want to be as open as possible.

"We are very keen for local people to get involved and would encourage anyone interested to come along to our meeting on 26 February and future meetings. 

"We have to limit the amount of time available for questions because of the amount of business we need to get through but will send written answers to questions that cannot be answered on the day.

"These NHS changes put doctors in the driving seat which is at one and the same time, a tremendous responsibility and a very exciting opportunity for us to get care right for our patients.

"We are determined to involve local people in decision making. Services improve when patients influence the way they are provided. Developing a healthcare system with real insight and involvement will help people to get the best out of their local NHS, and help us to make local health services the best they can be, within the resources available."

West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group will have control of the £472million allocated by the Department of Health for the 463,730 people who live in the area.

The main things this will be spent on are:

  • community health services - such as treatment by district nurses, advice from health visitors, rehabilitation, physiotherapy and occupational therapy to help people recover from illness or injury
  • acute services – for people who are ill or injured and need more specialist input, often provided in this area by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
  • mental health services - talking therapies for people with common mental health problems, and care from mental health teams for people with more complex needs
  • the medication that patients are prescribed by their GP, consultant or other NHS practitioner
The budget does not include the care provided by GPs themselves or their practice staff which, along with very specialist healthcare, services for service personnel, offenders and those in need of secure mental health facilities, will be commissioned by the NHS Commissioning Board, another new entity.

Patient participation groups are being set up in the great majority of West Kent practices; these allow patients to help their practice improve services as well as being a channel for patients' voices through to the CCG at locality level. The West Kent Health Network offers the chance for people across the patch to get involved. It offers regular updates on the CCG and the chance to contribute to how health services are designed and delivered.

Key facts

Area: southern part of Sevenoaks district, Maidstone borough, Tonbridge and Malling borough, Tunbridge Wells borough

Budget: £471,944,000

List size: 463,741

Practices: 62

Join West Kent Health Network by emailing westkent.ccg@nhs.net or ring the Patient Experience and Engagement Manager on 01732 375200 ext 5415.

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