‘Megalithic’ changes in East Sussex could see the creation of a new NHS trust providing health and social care services to patients in East Sussex by 2020.
Three years ago the county council formed the East Sussex Better Together programme with clinical commissioning groups, the trust running Eastbourne’s District General Hospital and Hastings’ Conquest Hospital, and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Through a number of initiatives the partnership has been working to transform and integrate health and social care, and the latest stage of the programme is the ESBT Alliance, which will deliver an accountable model of care and strengthen current arrangements.
This will look at how the organisations best use the £850m they spend collectively each year and is undergoing a ‘test bed year’ in 2017/18 before officially launching in April 2018.
By 2020 a new accountable care organisation would be established, which could involve the creation of a new East Sussex Health and Care NHS Trust taking a lead role across the health system and providing the majority of services in the ESBT area.
Keith Hinkley, director of adult social care and health at the county council, argued that a three year incremental approach would allow them to engage with all the relevant organisations.
He said: “What’s really important is that we can actually build the new accountable care model by actually going through these building blocks and putting them in place to ensure a robust overall structure to enable us to deliver the outcomes that we want within East Sussex.”
Becky Shaw, chief executive of the county council, added: “It has been a megalithic undertaking by the director but also the teams across a number of county council departments.”
East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet agreed to take forward proposals when they met today (Tuesday July 18).
Keith Glazier (Con, Rye and Eastern Rother) said: “I think it’s an incredible journey that we have been on. For people to remain as enthusiastic and positive after such a long time I think is credit to all those involved.”
He explained that similar discussions would follow later this month with governing bodies of the council’s NHS partners to ensure a consensus is reached on delivering the right care model.
By April 2018 the aim is to have a pooled budget, a single leadership of delivery function, and an integrated single leadership structure for strategic commissioning.
The ESBT programme covers Eastbourne, Hailsham, Seaford, Hastings, and Rother, and was creating in response to rising demand for NHS and social care services as more and more people require long-term support.
The High Weald Lewes Havens CCG area is covered by a separate programme called Connecting 4 You.
During Tuesday’s meeting Alan Shuttleworth (LDem, Eastbourne - Langney) said: “I think there is broad consensus across this chamber about the need to move from acute reactive care to a proactive community care system but we all recognise there are lots of obstacles in the way.”
Trevor Webb (Lab, Hastings - Central St Leonards and Gensing), leader of the Labour group, sought reassurances that the accountable care organisation would be deliverable, while John Ungar (LDem, Eastbourne - Old Town) asked if a ‘Plan B’ would be developed ‘if it all goes wrong’.
Meanwhile Charles Clark (Ind, Bexhill East) made an appeal for effective monitoring and scrutiny.