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People in Wisbech, March and Chatteris urged to share views on health services in Big Conversation

NHS bosses want to hear the views of people across Fenland on healthcare services as they plan for the future.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has launched the Big Conversation survey to hear the local populations' views on what and how services are delivered.

The CCG has a projected £192million deficit and needs to return to the black but insists this survey is not about cutting services.

Dr Gary Howsam and Jan Thomas at the launch of the Big Conversation (17542425)
Dr Gary Howsam and Jan Thomas at the launch of the Big Conversation (17542425)

It receives a budget of £1.3billion to "buy" a range of health care services, including hospitals, GPs and mental health services, for the 980,000 people in the county, which includes Fenland.

Accountable Officer Jan Thomas said: "We are spending more than we have. We are going to be expected to come back into financial balance.

"We want to hear from people and we want people to be honest with us. This gives us a guide for how we do everything in the future."

The CCG says it is already making efforts to live within its means by working more efficiently by reducing duplication and variation in procedures and processes along withreviewing and condensing its teams.

But it is also asking for the public's support in this work.

Currently, the system is spending £5.3million on prescribing medication, such as vitamins and paracetamol, which can be purchased much cheaper from high street shops.

Nationally almost £1billion was lost in missed hospital appointments. Each hospital outpatient appointment costs £120 and nationally 1.2million GP hours are lost due to people not attending.

CCG Chairman Dr Gary Howsam, a former Fenland GP, said the system as facing a "whole host of pressures"

He said: "One of the successes of the health service is that people are living longer with a whole host of conditions. The need for services are increasing in an era of limited resources so it is important to look at all the services.

"The reason why we are holding the Big Conversation is we want to have a different type of conversation with the population. This is an opportunity to really listen to people about what they think of services they are using.

"By getting a broad spectrum of views we will be able to form a set of guiding principles when planning services for the next three to five years."

When asked about North Cambs Hospital, Dr Howsam said: "This is not about any specific services in any specific location. We are looking at the bideing principles further down the line."

A number of public events will be held across the area to give people an opportunity to speak to health leaders directly in the Big Conversation.

People will also be able to fill in paper and online copies of the survey.

Once the Big Conversation is complete, the CCG report back to the public.

To fill in the online version of the questionnaire go to: bit.ly/NHSBigConversation or contact 01223 725317.

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