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OCCG Connect November 2014 – print all

A Message from Our Chief Executive

We’re delighted to forecast to break even for this year, says David Smith

A warm welcome to the latest edition of the OCCG Connect newsletter. You might have noticed that we’ve changed the way you can access and read the newsletter. Stories for each edition will be available on the OCCG website and you will be directed to them through links on the content page which will be emailed to you as before. We hope you find this new format easy to use and that it will encourage you to take advantage of the information and support we provide on our website.

I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know that we’re expecting to finish the financial year with a forecast break even financial position. At the beginning of the year we forecast a year end deficit but now we expect to break even. This is the result of monies received from NHS England following a review by them to help pay for the treatment of overseas visitors when they are staying in Oxfordshire.

I am also pleased to inform you that OCCG received approximately £4m from the government to help us better manage health services this winter. We will be sharing the money with our health and social care partners to ensure we can maintain a high quality of patient care during the winter months as demand for services go up.

We can all help take the pressure off over-stretched services in Oxfordshire by getting early advice when we feel ill especially over the winter months. Please visit your local high street pharmacy if you have a bad cough or a sore throat for advice on how to treat these conditions. They are a good alternative to seeing your GP.

And remember, there is still time to book an appointment for a free flu vaccination at your GP practice especially for those in the ‘at risk’ groups such as people aged over 65 and pregnant women. The jab will help keep you well and healthy from the complications of flu.




North East

Asking for Views on GP Services

Around thirty members of the public took part in a lively discussion about the future provision of GP services in Oxfordshire. The discussion was an opportunity for patients to be part of a period of engagement activity undertaken by OCCG as part of its priority focus on primary care development.

Rosie Rowe, Interim Primary Care Programme Lead at OCCG, delivered a presentation about how commissioners are taking on a bigger role in shaping GP services in Oxfordshire. Rosie explained how this was necessary to enable GP services to cope with the increasing demand for their services and to ensure that they develop services so patients can access care as flexibly as possible, such as looking at ways of making better use of technology like online booking of appointments.

This was followed by breakout sessions on Rosie’s presentation and key themes that patients suggested:

  • A suggestion that patients are triaged by a nurse first at GP surgeries before they see a GP
  • A call for more information on services provided at GP practices and greater signposting of support services, involving volunteers to support this
  • More services to be provided at practices rather than hospitals


  • A call for more information when patients are discharged from secondary care


  • Suggestion that those who do not show up for their GP appointment should be fined


  • Encourage local media to host regular slots on health and ways in which people can help look after themselves


This feedback and further information gained throughout a period of engagement run in July and August on General practice services, has contributed to the development of OCCG’s Primary Care Development Strategy. OCCG is in the process of going back to all Locality Patient Forums to present the findings of the engagement activity held over the summer and to describe the emerging primary care strategy.

Julie Anne-Howe, the Locality’s Co-ordinator, gave an insightful presentation on how health services are commissioned by OCCG and shared details of upcoming projects where OCCG are looking to involve patients. These include: musculoskeletal services review project which will run from July 2014 to April 2015; ophthalmology which began in October 2014; dermatology which is due to begin in December 2014; cardiology which is due to begin in February 2015; and gynaecology due to start in April 2015.

The meeting held at Exeter Hall in Kidlington was an opportunity to say goodbye to the outgoing Chair of the locality Forum, Mike Hobbs. It was his final meeting as the Chair and the Forum thanked him warmly for all his hard work and will be looking to replace him from current members, if possible.


Information About the Locality
There are 10 GP practices in the locality with a population of just over 78,000. The locality Clinical Director is Dr Stephen Attwood, who is supported by Dr Will O’Gorman.




A Focus on Digestive Problems

About fifty GPs from the City locality and beyond, took part in an education session in October sharing best practice for treating patients with digestive conditions. The City Gastroenterology event attracted several experts in this field and was held at the Kings Centre in Oxford.

Dr Michael Yousif from the Psychiatry Department, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust explained the role of a liaison psychiatrist in helping patients with digestive problems. Dr Jeremy Cobbold and Dr Simon Travis, consultants from the Gastroenterology Department at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust outlined several case studies to show when referrals were appropriate. There was also a question and answer panel discussion which helped to explain the many conditions and treatments associated with digestive problems.

If you have access to the OCCG intranet you will be able to view the power point presentations from the event under the Oxford City locality section here. The event was also filmed and when this is ready this will also be available on the intranet site.

The City locality will be holding further GP education events:

  • 4 December 2014 – MSK Orthopaedics /Physiotherapy (7pm to 9pm) Kings Centre, Oxford
  • 22 January 2015 – Dermatology / Cardiology (7pm to 9pm) Kings Centre, Oxford

For further information, contact


Information about the Locality 
There are 24 GP practices in the locality with a population of nearly 200,000. The Clinical Director is Dr David Chapman who is supported by three deputies, Dr Karen Kearley, Dr Merlin Dunlop and Dr Andy Valentine.




A Focus on Hospital Discharge

In October the locality’s Public Forum held an event at Banbury Town Hall on the themes of hospital discharge and care after leaving hospital. There were two presentations to explain the work going on around these areas. One looked at Circles of Support, a pilot project which has been set up by Oxfordshire Age UK to help older people stay out of hospital. The other was on a proposed project by Healthwatch Oxfordshire to research patients’ experiences of discharge from hospital. A discussion followed on how to encourage volunteers to get involved with both Circles of Support and the Healthwatch Oxfordshire project. People also shared their views on what a ‘good’ discharge from hospital would be like for patients.  All present agreed that this should involve a supportive local network of services and volunteers responding to a patient’s individual needs at that time. To find out more about the North Oxfordshire Forum and future meetings contact


Information About the Locality 
There are 13 GP practices in the locality with 105,963 registered patients. The locality Clinical Director is Dr Paul Park, who is supported by Dr Judith Wright.


 South East

Join Your Patient Participation Group

Did you know that most GP practices in the locality have a patient participation group (PPG) which are run either by patients meeting face to face or virtually through email and online discussion forums? PPGs provide feedback and advice on the services being provided at GPs surgeries. Each PPG sends a representative to take part in the South East Locality Patient Forum (SELF).
This supports OCCG as they commission health services for patients across Oxfordshire including acute and community hospital care. SELF does this by gathering the views of patients on local health services to feed back to OCCG. The chair of each patient forum also attends the South East Locality Group which includes doctors from each practice allowing patients a strong voice to influence commissioning. If you want more information about joining a PPG, talk to your GP practice.

Information About the Locality 
There are 10 GP practices in the locality with a population of 89,984. The locality Clinical Director is Dr Andrew Burnett who is supported by Dr Amear Latif.



South West

Forum Re-elects a New Chair

At a meeting of the locality’s Forum in October, members re-elected Martin Tarran-Jones as their Chair. Martin had previously held this post until January 2014. The position of Vice-Chair of the Forum remains vacant.
During October’s meeting held at Didcot Civic Hall, it was reported that a survey carried out by the patient group at the Woodlands Medical Centre in Didcot, showed that patients had expressed high levels of satisfaction with the service at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and the Churchill hospital (both based in Oxford).
However, only half of the patients who took part in the survey were satisfied with their experiences at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford. The survey results were submitted to NHS Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (OUHT) who runs these hospitals. This resulted in Caroline Heason, the trust’s Safeguarding Adults and Patient Services Manager attending the Forum meeting in October. Caroline talked about how the trust was able to gauge patient satisfaction with the services they provide through the NHS Friends and Family Test.
There was also a discussion at the Forum meeting on the findings of an interim report into local maternity services, which has been led by the patient group at the Whitehorse Medical Practice in Faringdon. It showed that from 88 responses collected from five patient groups in the locality there was an overall positive view of maternity services but also some ‘poor experiences.’ The report is still being developed and this will be discussed at the locality Forum meeting in January 2015 when an action plan will be agreed.

Information About the Locality

There are 14 GP practices in the locality with a population of around 140,000. The locality Clinical Director is Dr Julie Anderson who is supported by Dr Gavin Bartholomew.




Witney’s Emergency Multi-Disciplinary Unit (EMU) Treating Patients at Weekends

The EMU started to assess and treat patients on referral on Saturdays and Sundays (10am to 4pm) on 15 November. The EMU is attached to Witney’s Community hospital and was launched earlier this year after being commissioned by OCCG to help reduce the need for visits to A&E departments, particularly among elderly patients, by treating people with urgent but non-life threatening conditions closer to their homes.

The EMU is staffed by a team of doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and social workers. Patients who are referred to EMU normally by their GP are given an assessment within 20 minutes of arrival and a plan for their treatment is ready within four hours. An assessment could include nursing and medical review, diagnostics including X-ray, bloods samples, heart tests and a social work and therapy review.
The opening hours of the EMU have been extended as part of the planned development of this service. The EMU does not treat patients with suspected heart attacks, strokes and head injuries or those who may require surgical treatment.  These will still need to be seen at A&E.


Information About the Locality
There are nine GP practices in the locality with nearly 80,000 patients. Dr Miles Carter is the locality Clinical Director and the deputy is Dr Kiren Collison.



SOS Bus to Help Treat Patients in Oxford

OCCG funds a bus to help reduce the pressure on A&E

OCCG is delighted that a bus has been launched to treat patients with minor injuries in Oxford city centre at weekends.

The SOS bus has two treatment beds and three portable beds to treat patients with minor injuries in the Cornmarket area on Friday and Saturday evenings, operating from 10.30pm to 5.30am.

OCCG commissioned the service to help patients with minor injuries receive prompt, appropriate care in the city centre so helping to reduce the need for them to attend A&E. The service is being run as a pilot scheme.

This bus is being funded from the £4m winter monies OCCG received from the government to help us better manage health services over the winter.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is running the SOS bus and they are using a bus loaned from St John Ambulance which is manned by a SCAS paramedic and St John volunteer first aiders. An RAF nurse from the John Radcliffe hospital is also providing wound assessment and closure skills.

Dr Barbara Batty, Oxfordshire Clinical Commission Group’s Urgent Care Clinical Lead, said: ‘It is fantastic news the SOS bus is providing fast and effective treatment to people in the centre of Oxford, especially later on during the festive period where there is an increase in people out in pubs and clubs in the city.
‘The bus will reduce the need for people to attend A&E, relieving pressure on health services over the winter months, resulting in people who require urgent care to be seen more quickly.’



 Changes to Non-Emergency Patient Transport Criteria Underway

We have implemented new eligibility criteria for patients who use this service

You might have read in the local press that changes to the eligibility criteria for people using the non-emergency patient transport service have been introduced. This follows a three month consultation carried out this summer by OCCG to review the criteria. This was against a backdrop of rising demand for health services, and a significant increase in demand for these journeys over the past four years.

The aim of the consultation was to ensure best use of NHS resources, whilst ensuring that non-emergency patient transport could continue to be provided for the most vulnerable patients in the future. People who use the service still need to be registered at a GP practice in Oxfordshire as before.

Diane Hedges, Interim Director for Delivery and Localities at OCCG, said: ‘We sought and listened to the views of hundreds of people in Oxfordshire and to a broad range of voluntary and statutory organisations about our plans for non-emergency patient transport.

‘I would like to thank everyone who gave their views on this issue. With a rising demand for NHS services and resources needing to go further to pay for this, we have to make sure the patient transport service meets the essential needs of patients and supports the most vulnerable. The changes we agreed to the eligibility criteria will help us cope with these challenges facing the NHS while still helping those patients who require the service.’

The new criteria for all new and existing patients came in to effect from 1 November 2014 and you can read them here


Celebrating Excellent Nursing

You can nominate your outstanding nurse

Do you know a nurse who improves the quality of care for patients and demonstrates clinical excellence? The Nursing Standard has launched its annual awards with a call for nominations. The 2015 awards are open to nurses, midwives, health visitors, healthcare assistants, assistant practitioners and student nurses. All candidates must be registered to practice in the UK and with nursing as their primary job. Nominations can be for an individual nurse or for a nursing team. There is also the Patient Choice Award for patients and members of the public to nominate a nurse who has made a difference to their own or a loved one’s healthcare. The closing date is 16 January 2015. For information or to make a nomination go to or call the Nursing Standard Awards Team on 020 8423 1066


Feeling under the weather? The early advice is the best

Talk to your pharmacist if you feel under the weather this winter

Local people are being urged to seek early advice this winter if they are suffering from a minor illness to ensure it doesn’t get worse. It is part of the NHS ‘Feeling Under the Weather’ national winter campaign which OCCG, local hospitals and pharmacies are supporting.

The campaign is targeting everyone but especially those over the age of 60 and their families, friends and carers. For older people a minor illness such as a bad cough or sore throat can worsen quickly and they are being encouraged to seek advice from their local pharmacist before going to see their GP.

Dr Joe McManners, Clinical Chair for OCCG, said: ‘A minor illness can get worse quickly. Early advice really is the best advice and your local pharmacist can give you this for a minor illness, such as a bad cough or sore throat, as a good alternative to seeing your GP.

‘Local pharmacists are highly trained and trusted sources of health advice. You don’t need an appointment to see one and most have a consultation area where you can speak privately. If you are suffering from a ‘common cold’ your first point of call should be to visit where you can get advice on how to treat it, including steps you can take to prevent germs from spreading.

‘If you are suffering from something more serious, or are unsure of where you should go to seek medical advice, then contact NHS 111. I would encourage people who are in any of the at-risk groups, who have not yet made an appointment to have a flu jab, to contact your GP to make an appointment to receive the vaccination as soon as possible. Seasonal flu is not the same as getting a cold, it can seriously affect your health and the risks of complication are greater if you have certain medical conditions.’



Have You Had Your Flu Vaccination?

It’s not too late to get the jab to protect you this winter

People most ‘at risk’ should be vaccinated to stay well and healthy this winter

While flu is unpleasant for anyone that catches it, for some people it can lead to serious complications. Those most ‘at risk’ include people aged over 65, pregnant women, anyone with a long term condition like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney and liver disease, neurological disease or with a weakened immune system.

This year, immunisation by nasal spray is available for children aged between two and four years old.’

GP practices across Oxfordshire have been holding seasonal flu vaccination clinics since October, and ‘at risk’ patients are advised to contact their practice and book an appointment for a vaccination.

More information about flu immunisation is available on the NHS Choices website here


On the Horizon

Join Us for the Governing Body Meeting

The next Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body meeting will take place on Thursday, 27 November at Witney Methodist Church, 40 High Street, Witney, OX28 6HG.

You can submit a question beforehand to: or write to OCCG Business Manager, Jubilee House, 5510 John Smith Drive, Oxford Business Park, OX4 2LH.

For more details about our Governing Body meetings please visit the OCCG website



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