THE four NHS organisations that plan and buy health services in the county have devised a joint strategy that they say will “improve health and care across Cheshire”.

It comes ahead of a planned merger of the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) in East Cheshire, South Cheshire, Vale Royal and West Cheshire from April 1 next year.

Health chiefs say it will provide a more consistent quality of healthcare, having recognised that there are currently “examples of fragmented, inconsistent care”.

It comes as the CCGs are faced with the challenge of making savings of 5.5 per cent for the 2019/20 financial year.

Accountable Officer Clare Watson said: “The development of a single plan for Cheshire symbolises our determination to ensure that the people of Cheshire are able to access consistently good care – wherever they live.

“We know there are system-wide challenges to tackle and that examples of fragmented, inconsistent care remain. But by working together to solve our shared issues we will not only ensure better, more consistent care, but give Cheshire a more powerful voice in championing the needs of local people.”

A 16-page summary of the CCGS’ plan, entitled Our Plan, has been published to support and encourage the involvement of local patients.

The new operational plan for the county is said to align with the NHS Long Term Plan, published in January this year, which is the national blueprint outlining how to make the NHS “fit for the future”.

The CCGs’ ‘Our Plan’ will be a focus of discussion at a series of “Cheshire Chat” public engagement sessions across the county, starting in Nantwich on June 28. New dates are set to be confirmed via CCG websites and social media channels.

Mrs Watson added: “As Accountable Officer for the Cheshire CCGs I take our responsibility to listen to your views, prioritise the things you tell us are important and be open and transparent about our approach extremely seriously.

“With demand for services rising faster than budgets, this is just the start of an ongoing conversation about how best to ensure a high-quality health and care system – both now and in the future. This is your opportunity to help us shape the future of health and care in Cheshire.”

The four CCGs serve a total population of 738,900 people, covering 89 GP surgeries.

The ‘Our Plan’ summary document states that general health and wellbeing of people in Cheshire is good with people living longer.

However, as the proportion of people over 65 grows, so too does the number of residents living with multiple health conditions.

There are also said to be areas of significant health inequalities, due to pockets of deprivation across the county.

Almost a third of adults (30 per cent) are classed as inactive and a quarter are overweight or obese.

In the most deprived areas, life expectancy for men can be up to 11 years lower than the national average and 13 years lower for women.

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