Jerry Hawker, chief officer of NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG
THOSE of us who work in the public sector or regulated industries will have experienced the nervousness of being inspected by watchdogs and awaiting their verdict. Being scrutinised is always an ordeal yet it’s important that performance is assessed independently so we can learn from mistakes and keep improving.
And, of course, if we’re performing well, it’s heartening to be told we’re doing a good job. For that reason, I was pleased that Eastern Cheshire shone in most areas of a recent national Annual Assessment of CCGs by NHS England.
Experts looked particularly at three clinical priority areas: cancer care plus mental health and dementia services. The CCG was judged outstanding on cancer care and good on the other two.
The assessment was published alongside our annual Improvement and Assessment Framework (IAF) results. The IAF rates performance in the four categories of better health, better care, sustainability and being well led. For the second year running, the requirement to address the financial deficit has outweighed the good progress in many areas, leading to a rating of ‘requiring improvement.’
We were in the top quarter nationally on seven of the 14 better health indicators, and sixth in the country for supporting people with long-term conditions. We were in the top quarter on 13 of the 31 better care indicators. We were among the best in the country for early cancer diagnosis and learning disability health checks.
Performance and delayed transfers of care remain the two most significant areas for improving patients’ experience of care. Both areas have improved markedly in recent months because of joint working with East Cheshire NHS Trust (ECT) and Cheshire East Council.
Under sustainability, we were rated red (meaning unsatisfactory) because our financial deficit has increased. As a result, the CCG, ECT and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have entered the Capped Expenditure Process, a national programme led jointly by NHS England and NHS Improvement to identify and accelerate cost reduction programmes to help us balance our books.
In the category of being well led, we were rated positively for effective working relationships, our decision making and our role in the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership. However, our overall CCG leadership rating remains amber (meaning that improvement is needed). Again, this is a result of our financial performance.