PLANS for how the NHS will cope with Droitwich and Ombersley’s increasing population have been revealed.
As well as current residents getting older and living longer, Droitwich has had 411 new homes built in the last two years, 862 when the surrounding parishes were taken into account. And, according to the South Worcestershire Development Plan, another 730 will be needed by 2041.
Healthcare bosses say the developments mean the NHS will be face new challenges to deal with the number of people living in the town and people will have to use healthcare services in a different way to how they currently do.
As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, GP practices have been grouped into ‘Primary Care Networks’ (PCNs) to serve populations of 30,000 to 50,000 people.
The four medical centres – Spa, Salters, Corbett and Ombersley – work collectively as a PCN with other health and social care partners to deliver healthcare.
The NHS recently started offering evening and weekend appointments and these can be shared between the different practices in the PCN, offering more patient choice and convenience and preventing individual practices from becoming over-burdened.
Simon Trickett, Herefordshire and Worcestershire NHS Clincal Commissioning Group’s (CCG) accountable officer, said: “PCNs will enable the NHS to realise its Long Term Plan aspirations of caring for these people at home or as close to home as possible due to the integrated professionals grouped around its population.
“Ultimately, this will support the long term sustainability of General Practice.”
More technology will also be used.
The 111 advice line already has a website and people can already book appointments online.
If there are no appointments for people at the surgery they usually go to, they will be able to check where the next nearest availability is.
There is also an NHS mobile phone app where, once verifying who they are, patients can have their medical records at their fingertips.
For example if a person is unsure if their travel inoculations are up-to-date, rather than contact the GP to find out they will be able to use the app, saving GPs time for more serious appointments.
Hereford and Worcestershire is one of 12 to have been selected as a new ‘Digital First Primary Care Accelerator’ area which is trialling new technology.
Online video consultations, similar to Skype, are being trialled in different parts of the country where people can speak to healthcare professionals, ask questions and upload photographs relating to their concerns and conditions.
Mr Trickett said it was an exciting opportunity which could improve how clinicians and care professionals worked across PCNs and with hospitals, as well as promoting and working with communities and individuals to make better use of NHS apps and other digital tools.
“We also encourage people to use the NHS wisely, and to alleviate pressure on GPs and emergency departments, ask that people consider alternatives when seeking advice and treatment such as visiting their local pharmacy and calling NHS 111.”