Health Matters – APRIL 2019

Four Issues in this first Health Matters post:

  • GP Services
  • Our Local Hospitals
  • Adult Care Services
  • NHS Long Term Plan – have your say

1. GP Services

A whole new meaning for PCN! Primary Care Networks – groups of Practices joining together with a single clinical lead; they are designed to service between 30,000 – 50,000 patients, so that would really mean around 3 Practices working together. In St Albans alone we can expect to see 2 or 3 groups and across the St Albans District as a whole, between 3 and 5 of these Primary Care Networks.

The groups are to be in place by 1st July and will lead to the biggest shake up of Primary Care that we have seen for decades. The essence of this change is simple – at the moment we go to see our Doctor if we’re unwell – but the focus of the new Networks is to help us stay well!

They will combine range of local providers, including across primary care, community services, social care and the voluntary sector, to offer more personalised, coordinated health and social care to their local populations.

Primary care networks will provide proactive, coordinated care to their local populations, in different ways to match different people’s needs, with a strong focus on prevention and personalised care. This means supporting patients to make informed decisions about their own health and care and connecting them to a wide range of statutory and voluntary services to ensure they can access the care they need first time. Networks will also have a greater focus on population health and addressing health inequalities in their local area, using data and technology to inform the delivery of population scale care models.

For full details go to

2. Our Local Hospitals

The position on our local hospital reconfiguration does seem to be progressing well; let me try and summarise:-

  • Our hospital provider is the West Herts Hospital Trust (“WHHT”); in addition to the St Albans hospital they also cover Watford and Hemel Hempstead.
  • We have a single Accident & Emergency Dept – at Watford.
  • Hospitals provide two types of care – Critical (which includes A&E) and Planned.
  • Because of our location, hospitals at Luton (the L&D) and Stevenage (the Lister) are often as accessible as Watford!
  • There has been an ongoing program (4 years!) to reconfigure and update service provision in west Herts.

The last plan (submitted 12 months ago) was turned down and a new submission has to go in for consideration in time for the Autumn Spending Review.

The new submission will recommend one of four options currently being reviewed based on separating Critical & Planned Care: each one has Critical Care at Watford and

  • Planned Care at St Albans, Planned Medicine at Hemel;
  • Planned Care at St Albans
  • Planned Care at Hemel;
  • Planned Care at a new hospital between St Albans and Hemel;

There’s an issue here; the Trust has been told that the spending limit should not go above £350m, and that rules out most of the better options for St Albans. What’s more – there’s a massive maintenance backlog to address.

If you’d like all the details you’ll find them here:-

3. Adult Care Services

Another area of health care provision is being completely changed – Adult Care Services. At the moment these services are being provided by an organisation called Herts Community Trust; and while the organisation will continue to offer other services, most Adult Care Services will, from 1st October be delivered by another NHS organisation (CLCH – Central London Community Healthcare Trust) that is currently delivering these services across 11 London Boroughs.

The main services that are affected are community nursing and therapy, rehabilitation after a hospital stay and specialist end of life care services. The new service will take a much more integrated approach  that will use technology to than has previously been the case, and will have a far greater focus on prevention and support to live an independent life.

Current staff will be transferred to the new provider ensuring continuity of care. For further details

4. Have Your Say

I’ve summarised three major changes in our local healthcare provision; they are all part of the long term plan that the NHS has been working towards following the announcement of £20 billion extra funds in the Summer of last year. But what do you think of the way that healthcare and social services should develop in the future? Our local Healthwatch is seeking people’s views on the type of care they’d like to receive in the future – for details go to and click on What Would You Do?

Alan Bellinger Written by:

Alan is a Trustee of Healthwatch Hertfordshire and very well engaged with all things related to Health & Social Care within the Community. After retirement from a successful career in the private sector (working in both training and Information Technology), Alan wanted to get involved in supporting local health issues and has an excellent understanding of what it takes to ensure a great patient experience, Alan has lived in St Albans for well over 65 years; he is a widower with two children and he especially enjoys the company of his five grandchildren – four of whom live in the local area.