New priority for Suffolk's health bosses

IMPROVING health and preventing serious health conditions will be Suffolk Primary Care Trust's focus over the next five years, it has announced today.

IMPROVING health and preventing serious health conditions will be Suffolk Primary Care Trust's focus over the next five years, it has announced today.

The PCT, which has overall responsibility for planning and purchasing health services in Suffolk, is finally debt-free, after years of crippling debt.

And today it has set out its future plans for the future in a new document 'Commissioning for Health - Caring for Health Care: Strategic Intentions 2008 - 2013'.

Chief executive Carole Taylor-Brown said: “Overall we want a health service that helps people in Suffolk to stay healthy, provides access to high quality healthcare when they need it and aims continually for excellence and improvement in all areas. To sum up: the right care in the right place at the right time.

“We are in a strong position, helped by the fact we have turned around our financial situation, and Suffolk health services continue to perform well in reducing waiting times for treatment and improving care.

“There are other challenges to tackle. For example, we are generally a healthy community but we need to reduce the inequalities in health in some communities.

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“This strategy reflects what local people told us were their priorities for local health services in over 60 meetings and workshops with health professionals and representatives form partner organisations, such as Suffolk Country Council. In all, over 800 people from across Suffolk gave their views. From these discussions we have set out our plans under five strategic goals.

“There will be much more focus on improving health and preventing ill health. People told us they wanted more help to stay well and the confidence to know services are there when they need them. Our plans will see improved access to care, development of more locally based services particularly in community settings, alongside a positive future for our acute hospitals at Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds and our mental health care services.”

The PCT's specific priorities for action in 2008/09 include

Improve access to primary care, by ensuring 50per cent of GP practices offer extended hours either in the evenings or at weekends

Set demanding standards to continue to reduce healthcare associated infections

Develop self-care and patient education programme in diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure

Increase access to psychological support therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT)

Tackle obesity in children and young people and achieve healthy schools accreditation

Tackle health inequalities that exist between communities

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