NHS Tayside Chairman Sandy Watson spoke at the Forfar Probus Club last week to give members an insight into the future challenges facing the NHS and NHS Tayside’s direction of travel for the coming years.
Mr Watson gave an overview of the health service locally set within the context of the current economic, demographic and social pressures.
The Forfar Probus Club is made up retired professional and business men who meet twice a month in the town. The group has a strong membership with as many as 50 members attending meetings to listen to invited speakers who talk on a broad range of topics.
Mr Watson shared some remarkable statistics which will gave a clear illustration of the level of health service activity both from a clinical perspective but also, just as importantly, about the work that is carried out behind the scenes which is not routinely in the public eye.
Over the past year there were 80,000 inpatient admissions to Tayside hospitals, 17,000 day case attendances and 280,000 outpatient clinic sessions.
He explained that it is a source of frustration to the organisation, as well as a financial loss, that 40,000 people did not turn up for their outpatient’s appointment last year, and he made the plea to the public “If you can’t come in, call in!”
NHS Tayside catering staff produce more than 50,000 meals every week for patients, staff and visitors from 11 kitchens across Tayside.
At Ninewells alone, laundry staff wash around 11 million articles per year, 6,000 items of franked mail leave Ninewells every day, with 40 Royal Mail sacks coming in, and NHS Tayside telecommunications handle 2.5 million calls every year.
Mr Watson underlined the things which the public have told NHS Tayside, such as the quality and services they expect, fast access to reliable health care, short waiting times for diagnosis and treatment, reduced infection rates and accessing services close to where they live.
Mr Watson, said, “We have to work closely with both clinicians and the public, if we are to deal effectively with the challenges which lie ahead. Community engagement is therefore one of NHS Tayside’s highest priorities.
“In the public sector, we provide services for people and by doing so we effectively create a culture of dependency. As an organisation we have to get better at explaining to the public what we are about, and at gaining public ownership of the way ahead.
“We want to look at different ways of organising outpatient clinics, make day case surgery the norm for the majority of patients and address issues relating to prescribing. We want to look at introducing new ways of caring for older people so that they can be supported to live in their own homes, if that is appropriate and that is what they want, for as long as possible. We also want to develop technology for remote telecare and telehealth, offer support to communities and individuals to help themselves to make a difference to their own health and the health of their families.”