Warning over communication breakdown

HEALTH bosses in Suffolk are failing to communicate properly with patients and clinicians, it emerged today.

HEALTH bosses in Suffolk are failing to communicate properly with patients and clinicians, it emerged today.

The communication skills of NHS Suffolk, the county's primary care trust (PCT), were slammed in a study of its ability to lead healthcare in Suffolk and become a 'World Class Commissioner'.

Its ability to effectively buy and manage healthcare was recently measured as part of a national project designed to encourage organisations to be more innovative and provide better value for money.

NHS Suffolk was praised for its commitment to “getting things done” and ranked 87th out of 152 PCTs.

However the report criticised NHS Suffolk's inability to build partnerships and its relationships with patients, clinicians and the media.

It said: “The panel observed that while the PCT has consulted stakeholders to formulate the strategic plan, it is not apparent to what degree the PCT really listens during the stakeholder engagement process.

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“It is apparent to the panel that grassroots GPs in Suffolk are not engaged.”

Clare Jacobs, from Suffolk's Royal College of Nursing, said NHS Suffolk's inability to effectively communicate with healthcare workers had caused problems, but she added that the PCT had begun to address the issue and relationships were improving.

She said: “There has been a problem in communication in the past.

“And if the PCT doesn't effectively communicate, such as about the model of care needed at community hospitals, then it causes problems because people don't know exactly what they are supposed to be doing, or may not have been properly trained.

“They talk within themselves but don't engage with the public and people doing the job.

“I think they are beginning to learn their lessons now though.”

Should NHS Suffolk improve its communications? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

NHS Suffolk's view

MARTIN Royal, director of external relations at NHS Suffolk, the county's primary care trust, said: “To put our World Class Commissioning results into context, reaching the top commissioning competency is an aspirational target that all PCTs are aiming for - this is the ideal of where we want to be.

“We've already put changes into place in our aim to reach these goals.

“First, we've taken board-level decisions to make sure that patient, public and clinical engagement are amongst our highest priorities over the next 12 months.

“This includes improving partnerships with clinicians, expanding our communications and public and patient engagement activity, and ensuring that patients have the best possible access to GPs, dentists and other healthcare.

“For instance, as part of this we've just launched a consultation that invites everyone in Suffolk to have their say about how out-of-hours health services provided by dentists and GPs can be improved.”