One of the aims of Healthy Liverpool is for people in the city to have the very best hospital services and to receive the same high standard of care wherever they are treated.
Liverpool has a relatively large number of hospitals and, while there is a lot of excellent care being provided, there are times when services are duplicated and standards vary depending where you are treated.
We want teams who work for different hospitals but cover the same specialities to work more closely together for the benefit of patients.
In some cases, we think it might make sense for services to be provided at one hospital by one team. In other cases, it might mean that services continue to be provided at the same number of hospitals but by one team of people rather than several separate teams.
We believe patients will enjoy a more consistently high standard of care if hospitals work more closely together.
We also think it will strengthen the city’s ability to develop cutting-edge treatments and, by building on our already strong relationships with the city’s universities, we can create an environment where clinical research and development can thrive.
This will attract new investment and clinical expertise to Liverpool, which is good for the city, and good for the people who use the local NHS.
So what could greater collaboration between specialist teams in hospitals look like for patients?
One area we are currently looking at is cardiology – the area of medicine concerned with the heart. At the moment Liverpool has separate cardiology services at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, Aintree Hospital and Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital, but what if there could be one cardiology team serving the whole city?
This partnership approach would mean patients would receive a more consistent standard of care, no matter where they were treated. It would also mean the team could arrange its work rota so more services were available seven days a week.
Another example where change could benefit patients is upper GI (gastro intestinal) cancer surgery - cancers in the stomach or oesophagus. Currently, about 20% of patients with upper GI cancer have surgery as part of their treatment. The remaining 80% have other treatments, like chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
This means upper GI surgery is performed around 150 times each year and, at the moment, these surgeries are performed at two hospitals by two separate teams. If they worked as one team, and carried out all the operations in one hospital, patients would get better outcomes. This is because the people performing this complex surgery would have more experience because they would be doing it more often.
Hospitals are not just about services that are provided under one roof; increasingly they will also provide specialist care and treatment outside of hospital, working with GPs and community services to provide the best care, closer to home. You can read more about this work in the GP and Community Healthcare section here.
A key principle which will underpin changes introduced as part of Healthy Liverpool is to provide services locally to you wherever possible, but in one central place if this means your treatment will be better as a result.
It’s really important that we hear what you think about these plans. We need to know if you would be prepared to travel a bit further, if it meant getting better care, and what services would you prefer to keep local, if possible.
Healthy Liverpool is your opportunity to help change the way that hospital services in the city are provided, to create a system where all patients receive excellent care, no matter where they are treated. You can have your say online, by completing a short survey, or be attending one of our public events, details of which are here.
By Professor Donal O’Donoghue, Hospital Consultant, and a member of NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group’s Governing Body.