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“We will improve, and we will involve local people more” – that is the commitment of the organisation which plans and funds NHS services on the Island following a ‘vote of no confidence’ by the Isle of Wight Council.

NHS Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has acknowledged that there is a task ahead to improve the way that local health services work, and that it cannot succeed alone – more must be done to reach out to patients, local people, and partner organisations, and to learn from them. The CCG says it will work with all NHS organisations and the local authority to deliver a health and care system to meet the needs of Island residents.

The pledge to improve comes after criticisms from members of the Isle of Wight Council Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Adult Social Care and Health, that the CCG was not doing enough to ensure that Island residents could access the services they needed, involve people in developing how these services should be provided and keeping them informed about changes.

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A spokesperson for the Isle of Wight Council has said:

“The committee is deeply concerned that, based upon the circumstances highlighted by its handling of the Sandown Medical Centre, the unacceptable delay in autism assessments for children, lack of monitoring of commissioned services and poor public and patient engagement, the Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group does not appear to be fulfilling its statutory duties, or complying with best practice guidance, thereby failing to secure, and deliver, safe services that meets the needs of the Island’s population and calls upon NHS England to take urgent action to address this.”

Maggie MacIsaac, who has been the CCG’s accountable officer in the interim since April, has spoken out in response to the damning statement:

“The NHS on the Isle of Wight faces a series of huge challenges – recruiting and retaining skilled staff, driving up the quality of care for patients, changing the way that services work so that they can meet the growing demands of an ageing population, and doing all of that within the tough financial situation we face at the moment.

“Staff at the CCG are working hard to meet those challenges, and there is much for them to be proud of. We are also absolutely committed to building those strong partnerships with service providers, GP practices, social care and voluntary groups, which are essential if we are to give people on the Island the care and support they need.

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“It is clear that there are genuine and justified criticisms that we have not always done enough, quickly enough, to involve people in determining how the care they need should be provided. We need to do more to communicate, and to engage with people – we must recognise this, and work to ensure that people feel that we are an open, listening organisation which actively seeks out feedback and acts upon what we hear.”

David Radbourne, NHS England Director of Commissioning Operations said:

“The CCG has recently joined forces with the other members of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight CCG Partnership, and we believe that was the right thing to do in order to enhance the leadership team, strengthen the commissioning function and create closer joint working with local government.

“We exercised our formal powers of direction with the CCG last year to accelerate improvement and have been closely monitoring their progress, meeting regularly with them and the hospital trust, and we will be stepping up our work to help them improve. We are encouraged that the CCG has made a commitment to ensure services continue to thrive on the island taking the necessary steps to improve public engagement, financial control, and governance structures and we will actively support them in that. This includes a £400,000 allocation from the national NHS England GP retention fund. This will allow practical support to the health and care workforce allowing the Island to develop and strengthen new ways of working and new models of care, and in so doing attract and retain the local primary care workforce.”

The CCG says that it recognises that it hasn’t always had access to all of the skills and experience it needs. It is now working through a series of changes designed to address this so that it can strengthen the way that it monitors the performance of NHS services on the Island, increase the involvement of both clinicians and Island residents in decision-making, and tighten financial control.

Ms MacIsaac has continued:

“I think we have already recognised a lot of what needs to be done but we also know that the ultimate test is whether local patients on the Island are getting the care they need – we can and will do more to achieve that, and to involve all of our partners and Island residents in that effort.”

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