New era for health and care
By Dr Niruban Ratnarajah
They say that all good things must come to an end, so this is my final column as chairman of Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
However, unlike the song from “The Sound of Music”, it’s not a simple case of “so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu”.
You may have heard that the CCG - which is responsible for buying most of the hospital and community NHS services for the people of Bolton - will no longer exist after July 1.
Bolton, along with the other nine CCGs in Greater Manchester, will become part of a new NHS organisation. Called NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care, it will be part of a wider partnership involving all the different organisations that support the health and social care of everyone in the region.
So, what will this mean for residents in Bolton? Well, you won’t notice any immediate change: there will be no difference to how you contact your GP, attend hospital, access community health services or get your Covid-19 vaccination.
What will change is the way that organisations in Bolton and Greater Manchester work together to improve the care that people receive, which in many cases involves more than one service.
This won’t happen overnight - it will be a gradual process - and the good news is that we are building on strong foundations.
Organisations have already been working together for years to improve the care of people in Bolton, no matter where they live in the borough. We have been leading the way!
A great example of this is how everyone in Bolton pulled together to respond to Covid, whether that was supporting our most vulnerable residents to making sure everyone had the information they needed to stay safe. And, of course, there is the incredible success of Bolton’s vaccination programme.
This next step will put this great partnership working on a formal basis – and actually allow us to do even more. In Bolton it will be overseen by Fiona Noden, who is the chief executive of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust which runs the Royal Bolton Hospital.
On a personal note, I am proud that NHS Bolton CCG is ending on a high. We have been consistently rated as “outstanding” since 2019 and we are also leaving the CCG in a strong financial position. Thank you to all our staff, GP practices and partners whose hard work made this possible.
I want to pay special tribute to our chief executive Su Long, who has been with us since the very start of the CCG in 2013. She was instrumental in the development of the organisation, ensuring that we have had the highest standards of clinical leadership while always putting the needs of Bolton people and our diverse communities first.
Su has been at the forefront of our drive to improve the way health and social care services work together in Bolton, and is now playing a leading role in ensuring the transition to the new system goes smoothly.
As I mentioned before, I am also particularly proud of Bolton’s response to the national Covid-19 vaccination programme, the largest of its kind in our country’s history. It has undoubtedly saved many, many lives, and I thank everyone involved in the programme for their tremendous commitment.
While this is my last column as CCG chairman, I am looking forward to what the future holds.