We had our October board meeting at our new offices on Upper Richmond Road, near East Putney tube. The new offices are easily accessible by bus or tube, and I hope you will come join us at a future board meeting. In the meantime, here are my highlights from the October meeting.
And, of course, click here for the board papers.
I told the board about the clinical reference group that I chair on cardiovascular disease, which is often abbreviated as CVD. The group looks after services relating to heart disease and circulatory conditions - which together with stroke are the commonest cause of death in the UK. The group has been hard at work redesigning heart failure services in order to improve patient outcomes. Many Wandsworth patients are treated at St George's hospital, and the aim of our work is to ensure that every patient entering St George's with heart failure gets high quality care from the specialist team. Our community heart failure nurses will ensure that patients are able to be traeted at home wherever possible.
I also told the board that patient and public involvement has been a concern for the clinical reference group this year, as our patient rep left partly due to the fact that he didn't feel fully included in the group. A new patient rep has now joined us, and I, along with the rest of the group, am determined to learn from the experience and raise our game accordingly. CVD by its nature covers a wide range of complex clinical issues, but that doesn't excuse us from making sure that patients' insights inform the changes we propose to make.
With that caveat, we have learnt a great deal from the patient stories that have come before our group. For example, we have learnt that there are wide variations in the treatments CVD patients receive. This feedback from patients influences how the CVD clinical reference group sets about improving services for patients and their health outcomes. Find our more about our work on CVD here.
Falls and Bone Health
Dr Charlotte Levitt is our clinical lead for falls and bone health. Like all GPs she has seen many elderly people with injuries from a slip or trip. Now she is able to refer people into the integrated falls and bone health service. This service has had great success in preventing falls and has reduced the number of serious injuries (such as fractures) which result in hospital admission.
Part of the prevention approach happens through voluntary agencies such as Age UK's handyperson service and Wandsworth Housing Adaptation and Repairs Forum (WHARF). If you have a friend or relative over 60 – or if you work with people age 60 or over, please do take a moment to read more about the falls service.
Next, the board turned our collective attention toward the Battersea area. The smokestacks of the power station have been a steady constant, but as any resident will tell you, Battersea, like much of Wandsworth, has changed hugely over the years.
Battersea has some of the most deprived areas of Wandsworth and this is borne out by indicators that show it has higher levels of child poverty, double the HIV prevalence rate compared to the rest of the borough, and high level of deaths from circulatory disease.
There are five priority areas we are focusing on in the Battersea area: tackling obesity, boosting physical activity, reducing alcohol dependency, preventing late diagnosis of cancers and identifying mental health problems - the board paper sets this out in more detail.
We are having success with the condoms, chlamydia and HIV programme, which involves training health care assistants and practice nurses to work with patients on their sexual health. Eleven out of the 12 GP practices have signed up to the programme and we are increasing the number of 16-24 year olds having chlamydia and HIV screening among other tests. We won't turn around Battersea's health stats overnight, but I know the Battersea team and the local practices, are determined to drive improvements in health and wellbeing.
As it's October, of course we are backing the Stoptober smoking cessation campaign. I also asked the board to sign up to the NHS statement of support for tobacco control, which, happily, they agreed to.
Finally, we said goodbye to Dr Rod Ewen as he attended his last board meeting. He's retiring as a GP and from the board. He has helped thousands of Wandsworth patients, he is a great clinical leader, a diligent and hard-working board member – and has been a great support to me over the years. We wish him a long and happy retirement.