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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-19-08

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Access to medical technology in Southport and Formby among best in the country

PATIENTS in Southport and Formby have some of the best access in the country to vital medical treatments such as:- pacemakers, cataract surgery, and hip and knee replacements, a new study by the Medical Technology Group has revealed.  The report examined data from all 209 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) from across England to find out how effective they are at giving patients access to medical technology. It found that NHS Southport and Formby CCG was in the top 10 CCG performers when measured against the NHS 18 week 'referral to treatment' target and the NHS Atlas of Variation, which measures how patients' access to NHS services varies across the country. The report revealed wide regional variation in patient access to medical technology and a distinct North South divide, with 9 out of the 10 of the worst performing CCG's located in the South. In cardiology and cardiothoracic medicine for example:- figures ranged from 100% of patients receiving treatment within 18 weeks, in North Durham, while Medway CCG failed to hit the target for ½ of its patients. Patient waiting times are steadily increasing across all CCGs, the MTG study found. NHS performance reached a peak in late 2012 when nearly 19 out of 20 patients (94.8%) were referred to a consultant within the 18 week timeframe. However, in April 2017, the figure had declined to 9 out of 10, with almost 3 times more patients (380,000) waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment compared with 130,000 in November 2012.  Chair of the MTG, Barbara Harpham, said:- "Delivering high quality healthcare, no matter where you live, is one of the fundamental principles of the NHS. But budget cuts and rationing is having a huge impact on the service patients receive, and the outcome they can expect.   This enormous variation can't simply be explained by the regional differences in populations. There is an unprecedented strain on the health service and patients are not being given equal access to the treatment; and most importantly; the technology they need."  The MTG makes seven recommendations to address the issue of regional variation, including publication of aggregate waiting time figures, so patients can compare the performance of their local NHS against other regions and inspections of the worst performing CCGs by NHS England. Barbara Harpham added:- "Quicker and better access to medical technology can save the NHS money in the long term, by avoiding complications and additional treatment and by getting patients out of Hospital and back to work and into the community. It's time to reassess how medical technology is commissioned and to call these underperforming health services to account."  A copy of the MTG report:- 'The North South NHS divide: how where you are; not what you need; dictates your care' can be downloaded now.


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