I was delighted to welcome two judges from the Health Service Journal to our offices last week as part of the process for its ‘CCG of the Year Award’. We are among six finalists, chosen from 100 CCG applicants in this category. We are exceptionally proud to get this far and hopefully we will have done enough during the visit to impress the judges.

Last month I enjoyed visits to the annual general meetings of North West Ambulance Service and also to Blackburn with Darwen CCG. Visits like these help me to keep up-to-date with the achievements and challenges of key partners.

I also recently had the opportunity to visit the new Extensive Care Service at Lytham Primary Care Centre, where I met service manager Jason Flannigan-Salmon and some of the staff.

I was very impressed by the enthusiasm of staff and emphasis on the holistic care of patients which reflected the initial vision for this service. Patient referrals are growing with more than 121 by the end of August and there is a strong culture of continuous learning to make this service work effectively for patients.

A meeting with colleagues from Blackpool CCG has helped me to gain a better understanding of our commissioning process for ambulance services and how the investment we have made is being used.

The meeting also emphasised the need for continuous monitoring of the reasons why targets are missed to identify and rectify any risks to patients. We will continue to support campaigns to ensure ambulance services are used appropriately.

Details of forthcoming meetings of the most relevant CCGs and Trusts have been circulated to Governing Body members to identify those able to attend as observers to keep in touch with key providers and fellow commissioners.

Recently, the Governing Body participated in development sessions on finance awareness, improving strategic and operational performance and conflicts of interest. Members undertook to ‘champion’ some aspects of Governing Body and CCG effectiveness  to continually improve what we do.

Finally, I was delighted to see that the King’s Fund Report, which identifies 10 priorities for action in transforming healthcare, contained a number of themes in common with our own 2030 Strategy for Health and Care.

These act as a useful reminder of what our CCG is trying to achieve and include a more systematic and proactive management of chronic disease; the empowerment of patients; a population-based approach to commissioning and more integrated models of care.