Health

OPINION: Karin Smyth MP on South Bristol Community Hospital


(Newspaper column as seen in the October 2019 edition of The Pigeon)

I’ve spoken before about my concern over the recommissioning of adult community health services in the region. Last month, Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) announced it had awarded a £1bn 10-year contract to deliver adult community  health services to a new provider – Sirona. Changing provider is a high risk move and I’m concerned about the impact of this on health services in Bristol South.   

One of my main concerns is what it will mean for South Bristol Community Hospital (SBCH). The CCG has acknowledged that the healthcare need is greater in Bristol South. We fought hard to get this important facility built in Bristol South in 2012. It has so much potential to deliver a whole range of services but seems to be under-used currently. I am determined to change this.  

I’ve spoken with people who have used the hospital and have heard lots of positive comments about the space, the staff and the treatment they receive and how easy it is to access the services.  

The Hengrove hospital currently provides care to about 32,000 patients annually in Bristol South. The SBCH, has an urgent care centre which is open daily from 8am to 8pm. No referral or pre-booked appointment is necessary: you can just arrive and be seen. For minor injuries and illnesses, there’s no need to go to the City Centre. The SBCH is easy to reach with good public transport links.  

The hospital offers a range of screening, physiotherapy, sexual health services and dental healthcare. It is also home to groups which support carers and older people. The building is just seven years old and still has that new feeling. There’s been investment into the grounds, with a garden and children’s play area created by hospital charity Above & Beyond.  

There is still work to be done. A 2016 HealthWatch report suggested adding a patient shop, making more use of volunteers and strengthening ties with the local authority with a view to being able to discharge people earlier.   

And, should there be funding for enough staff, SBCH hospital has the potential to be able to offer a whole host of new services. The University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, released its 2025 vision earlier this year. It proposes to deliver: ‘a future model of care for South Bristol Community Hospital as a vibrant local community health and care facility for the people living in the South Bristol locality’. That is something I really want to see.  

I will keep speaking up for first-rate NHS provision in Bristol South, and look forward to seeing SBCH better used. 

OPINION: Karin Smyth MP on local NHS services


(Newspaper column as seen in the October 2019 edition of the South Bristol Voice)

Before I became a politician, I worked in NHS management. As MP for Bristol South I’m acutely aware of the health inequality that exists here and the great need for first-rate healthcare close to home for my constituents. For these, and many other reasons, health is one of the main areas I focus on as your MP.  

You may have seen that I have been raising objections to the recent recommissioning of adult community health services in Bristol South and the surrounding area by Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG).  

I spoke to local and national NHS leaders and government ministers to outline my concerns – that unidentified bidders competing for a £1bn 10-year contract behind closed doors was not in the best interests of local people. Despite my protestations, the recommissioning took place.  

Last month (Sept), the local CCG revealed that from April 2020 a new provider – Sirona – would be taking over the delivery of adult community health services from the existing provider and failed bidder, Bristol Community Health – which has given notice on its other contacts and now faces an uncertain future. 

We still do not know which services were included in the winning bid and, perhaps more importantly, which were not. As such, we have no idea how this will impact or, as should be the case, improve the current situation. It’s an uncertain time for staff and patients alike.  

Adult community health services include community nurses, respiratory, cardiac and diabetes care – as well as some of the services offered at South Bristol Community Hospital (SBCH). It’s a vital part of the journey from acute care to social care and/or recovery. Delivering quality community health services relies on a huge amount of local knowledge and relationships built up over years between staff and patients.  

Changing provider is a high-risk strategy by the CCG. We’re already seeing issues locally with the changeover last month (Sept) of access to mental health service delivery – from Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership to the Essex-based Vita Health. In this case, the option to self-refer online has been disabled during the handover. Sirona has a huge amount of work to do over the next six months before they’re in a position to be able to deliver services including staffing, IT, engaging with patients and partnering with charities.  

The CCG – which has recognised the greater health needs in Bristol South – says it wants to see consistent, joined-up healthcare delivered closer to home. I look forward to learning more about how services across Bristol South – including at South Bristol Community Hospital – will improve as a result of this very costly and bureaucratic re-commissioning process. And I will continue to work with all concerned to make sure that happens. 

Karin Smyth MP responds to announcement of new community health provider in Bristol South

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth has been speaking out against the ill-advised recommissioning of adult community health services by Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG). The CCG this week revealed that it has appointed a single new provider – Sirona – which will take over the delivery of services in Bristol South from current provider Bristol Community Health in April 2020.

Karin says: “I’ve repeatedly spoken out against the costly process which, I believe, should not have taken place. The £1bn contract, which starts in April 2020, will bind us to this provider for the next decade – yet we still do not know which services were included in their bid and, perhaps more importantly, which were not. It’s an uncertain time for staff and patients alike.

For us in Bristol, this change in provider is a high-risk strategy by the CCG. Delivering quality community health services relies on a huge amount of local knowledge and relationships built up over years between staff and patients.

We are inviting Sirona to deliver a huge range of services across Bristol South and beyond. The social enterprise has a huge amount of work to do over the next six months before they’re in a position to be able to deliver services – from staffing to IT and engaging with patients to partnering with charities.

We need to know what impact this will have on the services we rely heavily on in Bristol South – including respiratory, cardiac and diabetes services, particularly considering the CCG itself has recognised the greater need in Bristol South.

The CCG says it wants to see consistent, joined-up healthcare delivered closer to home. I look forward to learning more about how services in Bristol South will improve as a result of this very costly and bureaucratic re-commissioning process, and I will continue to work with all concerned to make sure that happens.

Karin Smyth MP concerned that Bristol South could be left worse off in terms of healthcare

Ever since Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) announced its plans to go out to tender for a £1bn, 10 year contract to deliver community health services across the region last year, I’ve raised a number of concerns with the head of the CCG, NHS England and the government.

Throughout the process, unidentified bidders were competing against each other in secret without the full picture of what the local needs are and what services are currently on offer.

My main concern is that people in Bristol South could be left worse off in terms of healthcare compared to what they have now. I have seen no evidence to allay these fears.

This week’s news that the CCG plans to appoint a new provider of services for local people makes for a very uncertain time for patients and staff alike. We will obviously need to see the detail of what this will mean for people in Bristol South.

I will be following the due diligence process closely and will continue to push for more transparency throughout. I want to know more about how healthcare provision will improve for people living in Bristol South as a result of this change.

Bedminster pharmacist wins national NHS award after being nominated by Bristol South MP Karin Smyth

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth has welcomed national recognition for a local Ade Williams at Bedminster Pharmacy in the prestigious NHS Parliamentary Awards.

MPs in England were asked to nominate individuals and teams serving their constituents across ten categories. Regional champions were selected in June, with the national winners chosen by a panel of senior leaders representing staff and patients.

Ade scooped the national prize in the Primary Care category at the NHS Parliamentary Awards, held in Parliament on Wednesday 10 July, after being put forward by Karin earlier in the year.

He was nominated for, among other things, supporting a number of pioneering schemes to support the health of people in the local area including the annual men’s health campaign known as the ‘Bemmy challenge’ with pubs, barbers and tattoo parlours and ‘pulse in the pub’ blood pressure checks.

Karin said: “I was pleased to be able to nominate Ade and I am delighted that he has won the Excellence in Primary Care Award. Ade is a great example of a pharmacist who really cares about his community. He keeps in touch with GPs to improve services and is always publicising important health campaigns. Ade is very well known in the local community for giving top quality care and advice. He even finds time to contribute to academic research and to write for both health professionals and the public. He provides a valued service to many of my constituents, so I know that everyone in Bristol South will join me in welcoming this richly-deserved national accolade.”

She added: “The success of the National Health Service is built on its wonderful staff, so it is right that MPs champion the outstanding work happening in their local area.”

The NHS Parliamentary Awards, supported by FUJI FILM, were launched to recognise the massive contribution made by the individuals who work in and alongside the NHS.

Ade was one of twelve winners – selected from more than 600 nominations submitted by over 230 MPs – to receive their awards at a ceremony on the Palace of Westminster’s Terrace Pavilion, hosted by Dr Sara Kayat, NHS GP & TV Doctor. Health Select Committee Chair Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP, and the panel of judges collectively representing millions of NHS staff and patients were also on hand to pay tribute to the winners and all those shortlisted.

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth raises concerns in Parliament that vital NHS services could be lost due to secretive tendering process

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth took the campaign for more transparency in the NHS to parliament when she led a Westminster Hall debate on the future of local community health services.

She was joined in Parliament on Wednesday 26 Jun by Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage and other MPs to discuss Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (BNSSG CCG) procurement and what it will mean for community health services in Bristol South.

“As it stands, we do not know who is bidding and what they are offering,” said Karin, “And crucially, because there was no baseline or business case for change presented, we cannot be sure that service provision will remain in place, let alone improve. That is what I’m really concerned about and it’s why I’ll continue pushing for more transparency during this ill-advised process.”

She added: “People across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire simply want to know what is happening to their local health services. This competitive and secretive process goes against the NHS plan and experts’ desire for more collaborative ways of working.”

Karin, who worked as an NHS manager for many years before she was elected to parliament, first raised concerns late last year (2018) when BNSSG CCG put a £1 billion, 10-year contract for adult community health out to tender. She has spoken with the Chief Executive of the CCG, NHS England and NHS Improvement seeking assurances that vital NHS services in Bristol South – including those at South Bristol Community Hospital – won’t be lost.

She said: “This debate is the latest important step in ensuring that my constituents aren’t left worse off in terms of the community health services they rely on. I’ve spoken with NHS staff – managers, consultants and nurses – as well as other service providers and residents; like me, they are worried that this change could lead to poorer provision.

“Our health services are public services. They are paid for by the taxpayer – our constituents. If we keep asking people to pay more for our health services, people need to have a much greater say in how those services are run; particularly when they are being changed.

“With the CCG seemingly intent on carrying out this process behind closed doors, we cannot know whether we’re getting value for money when we don’t even know what we’ve got at the moment and what is being proposed. How much is this process costing us? People in Bristol South deserve to know that what they’re getting is as good as, if not better than, what they have now.”

Following the parliamentary debate, Karin has written to the minister asking for her support in getting sight of the proposals before any contracts are signed. Ms Dinenage thanked Karin for raising the important issue and said the government would continue to monitor this process closely.

Karin added: “I’m pleased that the minister has recognised my concerns as valid but there’s still some work to do to ensure my constituents can access the healthcare they need.”

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth calls on the Secretary of State for Health to pause the potentially disastrous NHS commissioning plans for Bristol

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth will today (January 7th) use a House of Commons debate to call on the Secretary of State for Health to pause the potentially disastrous NHS commissioning plans for Bristol.

Karin Smyth MP said:

“The Government has today launched its 10 Year NHS Long Term Plan, committed to integrating care locally and seeking to change the disastrous NHS Reforms freeing Commissioners from the procurement rules introduced in 2012. However, tomorrow we have the local Bristol and North Somerset, South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) embarking on its own 10 year plan to tender community services.

“Before the Christmas break I wrote to the CCG asking them to hold off on a service tender ahead of the NHS Plan – and today, I am calling on the Health Secretary Matthew Hancock to intervene and pause the process.

“I am concerned to see the CCG pursuing a complex legal procurement process for just some of our community services, without a clear understanding of what is required and without any attempt at cooperation with other partners who also provide vital services.

“This approach creates potential conflict where there should be collaboration between service providers, which is not in keeping with the national direction. What is proposed is a complex set of negotiations with providers outside of the NHS, held entirely in secret. This is not how the NHS should be managed.

“Only by working together to create a joined-up approach to services can we — NHS England, the CCG, NHS staff, local authorities and the public — succeed in delivering quality health and social care for people. The NHS Plan actually offers an opportunity to create new NHS Trusts which could be used to bring together community services if that is the objective.

“We have a brilliant asset in South Bristol Community Hospital which we should be making the most of. I’m concerned that re-tendering services here may have a negative impact on the hospital and supporting services.

“We need a considered and strategic approach with increased accountability in order to ensure patients in Bristol South and beyond have the services they need and deserve.”

ENDS

 

BNSSG CCG Governing Body Meeting

Date: Tuesday 8th January 2019

Time: 1.30pm

Location: The Weston College, Knightstone Road, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, BS23 2AL

Agenda: https://bnssgccg.nhs.uk/library/governing-body-paper-8-january-2019-agenda/