During the summer, our clinical chief officer Dr Tony Naughton and I attended a Commissioning Leaders in the North event which focused on the current challenges facing the NHS in the North of England, such as growing demand and financial pressures, and how the system can address them and get back into balance.

There was recognition of the need to focus on short-term performance issues to prevent deterioration and build confidence and longer term stability to release resources/innovate.

It was also noteworthy that of the 10 CCGs rated as ‘outstanding’ by NHS England for their 2015/16 annual assurance assessment, seven are in the North (including Fylde and Wyre CCG).

I have also had the opportunity, along with the chair of Blackpool CCG, to visit the new Combined Assessment and Treatment Service at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, which launched earlier this year. The purpose of the service is to avoid many more unnecessary hospital admissions and take pressure off A&E services.

The Trust is the first to combine primary care, surgical and medical assessment in one ambulatory care centre. The enthusiasm of the staff for the new service and in particular the wish to improve the patient experience was very encouraging.

I was very pleased after a visit to Beechwood Surgery, Thornton Cleveleys, to see the new building is a considerable improvement on the old surgery and a better environment for patients and staff. The commitment and enthusiasm of staff was impressive.

The CCG’s Annual General Meeting to present its report and accounts for 2015/16 took place on Thursday 29 September 2016 at the Lowther Pavilion, Lytham St Annes.

Blackpool CCG and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals held their AGMs on the same day. The three AGMs were followed by a Fylde Coast Health Economy Health Event at which the successes and challenges of the NHS on the Fylde coast were highlighted.

A range of exhibitors showcased the future of health and care and provided free health checks as well as a range of information about services in the area.

Public Health England’s North West Business Plan 2016-2017 was published in August 2016. The Plan outlines the services and functions that PHE North West will offer as part of the wider public health system.

Some of the statistics quoted in the plan remind us of what has been achieved but also how far we still have to travel to improve the health and wellbeing of the population in the North West. For example:

  • 48 per cent of us are meeting the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day.
  • There was a 21 per cent decrease in the rate of TB in the North West between 2009-2014.
  • The pregnancy rate for under-18s continues to follow a downward trend.

On the other hand:

  • The North West has four out of the five most deprived local authority districts in England.
  • In 2015, the prescribing of antibiotics was 11 per cent higher than the England average.
  • 30 per cent of adults are classified as inactive, doing fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity per week.

Finally I would like to pay tribute to Dr Kate Granger, who sadly died on 23 July 2016. Dr Granger founded the inspiring and influential campaign “hello my name is….” to encourage and remind healthcare staff of the importance of introductions in healthcare.

In paying tribute to her, the NHS Confederation reminded us that Kate’s campaign did not grow out of her career and training as a doctor but out of her experience as someone receiving care from the NHS.

‘The onus is on all of us to continue Kate’s fantastic work by talking about and learning from our own experiences’ as providers and receivers of care.