​Chat from the Chair - September 2016​

Summer's over and we're half way through this financial year already! There's still much to do and we're focusing very hard on how to stay within our budget. At last week's Board meeting, we heard that we're still on target to meet our planned financial surplus but it's proving to be as challenging as we expected.

Much of the pressure on the finances is from things like the cost of continuing healthcare and increased numbers of people being treated in hospital. We are expecting to fully use our reserves to address these pressures and that will leave us little margin for error.

Looking ahead to 2017/18, we expect to be working more closely with CCGs in south west London to manage the finances in a more coordinated way.

Before we got on to that though, we bid farewell to Seth Rankin for whom this was his last meeting as clinical lead for our Wandle Locality. Dr Mike Lane will continue as sole lead for Wandle until the next set of elections.

Our clinical focus was on mental health. Dr Tom Coffey reported on the work of the mental health clinical reference group and we were impressed by the volume and quality of this group's work. About 30 per cent of ill health in Wandsworth can be linked to mental health issues and so it's really important that we keep on trying to improve the services and support available as well as focusing on prevention.

There are some exciting developments like a new service for patients with serious mental illness transferring from the care of the community mental health team (CMHT). This will be starting in our Wandle locality and involves mental health specialists working in GP practices with the aim of improving the confidence of both patients and GPs so that we can care for these patients in primary care.

Alongside this development, South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust is introducing a single point of access to CMHTs. The new service will also accept self-referrals and it will be interesting to see how this works.

There was a lot of discussion about these and other developments for example the work of the Public Health team to look at each case of suicide in the borough to understand what were the causes and how these might be prevented in future.

Next on the agenda was an update on the West Wandsworth Locality. Locality manager Tanya Stacey and clinical leads, Drs Zoe Rose and Rumant Grewal gave a lively presentation of their work to engage with practices and find new ways of working together to the needs of their patients. We enjoyed hearing about the practices' project to get more men to have their health check. The locality is also developing a pathway to make better use of the beds at Queen Mary's Hospital for patients who don't need to be cared for in a more major hospital.

Meanwhile work on the Nine Elms Vauxhall development is progressing and the Board approved the outline business case for additional primary and community health service facilities in Lambeth and Wandsworth. This will go to the two councils in the next month or so.

Only a week later, we held our third Annual General Meeting. This was well attended and it was a pleasure to be able to share some of the achievements of our members, staff and partners. I'm pleased to be part of such a caring and committed organisation and look forward to reporting on another year of great work next September.

If you weren't able to attend, you can still view both the AGM and our last Board meeting via our website. You can find all the papers there too.