Firstly, you may have seen just before Christmas that the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group has run into financial difficulties because of work pressures in the NHS. In total it expects to have a deficit this year which amounts to about 3% of its total budget.
This situation probably sounds pretty familiar – we have seen similar problems at the Epsom and St Helier Trust in recent years, and no sooner does one organisation seem to sort out its problems than the other starts to experience them.
My first concern was that this would lead to another discussion about the future of acute services at Epsom. But in fact the different organisations involved in our local NHS services seem to be taking a very welcome and rather different approach.
They have launched a project to find ways of joining up what they do and sharing resources rather than simply making cutbacks to make the numbers add up. This involves a closer working partnership between the bits of the NHS that provide hospital, GP, community and mental health services.
It’s early days yet, but I am hopeful that this will lead to what I have argued for many years – that Epsom should become more of a local health campus providing a wider range of services to the area. I will keep you updated in due course as their work continues.