Earlier this year GP leaders warned clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) would not succeed unless they did more to involve women in senior roles.
In the report, Releasing potential: women doctors and clinical leadership, Suffolk GP Dr Penny Newman, a member of the NHS Midlands and East commissioning development team, wrote that ‘CCGs are male dominated with a few exceptions’.
Looking through the speakers at Commissioning 2012, an event in London on 27-28 June featuring over 700 GPs and primary care managers, GP chose to interview Dr Rosie Benneyworth, a GP and trainer in Taunton, Somerset, who leads on urgent care and cancer commissioning for Somerset CCG.
How did you become involved with commissioning?
Dr Benneyworth says: ‘I fell into commissioning. I was actually unwell and a rheumatologist wrote to me asking me to join one of the local groups looking at rheumatolology services in Somerset. I joined the group and became involved with rheumatology services at the same time.’ Later she joined her practice-based commissioning group board.
She adds: ‘If there’s a problem, I’ve never really been the type of person to sit back and not do anything about it. I like to get involved and change things.’
What work have you undertaken?
Dr Benneyworth says: ‘I’ve done a lot of care pathway work on gynaecology and re-ablement.’ Re-ablement helps users manage their condition at home and continue to do the things that matter to them. Results have shown re-ablement reduces emergency re-admissions and social care costs for users fell. In urgent care Dr Benneyworth has been involved in several pieces of urgent care work, the sum of which look at the whole system. She has been working with Dr David Carson, a director of the Primary Care Foundation (which aims to develop and spread best practice in unscheduled, emergency and primary care in the UK), and former GP who spent four years developing GP out-of-hours services and emergency care policy and performance for the DH, in primary care; the DH’s emergency care intensive support team in the acute hospitals; and set up an urgent care group across Somerset represented by all providers and commissioners.
Dr Benneyworth adds: ‘The group has all the relevant providers: the ambulance trust, acute trust, primary care, community health and commissioners. We’ve unpicked what the issues are and all the providers and all the costs. We’re looking at creating some good care pathways for urgent care.’
So what differences would patients notice about services?
Dr Benneyworth says: ‘With re-ablement, patients are getting involved from the start of the project. Rather than having standard packages of care and care pathways, we’re asking patients what’s important for them. What goals would they like to achieve? What services would they like arranged for them? It’s about finding solutions to help them on an individual basis. They want to maintain their independence, to be listened to and respected. They don’t want to be pushed from one place to another. We hope that we’ve delivering a very patient-centred approach.’
But does it save money?
Dr Benneyworth says: ‘We are making savings but we’ve also accepted that there will probably have to be extra resources that go into the beginning of a patient’s journey. The aim is to reduce waste further down the line and to reduce emergency admissions.
‘At the beginning we have to take time to actually understand what the issues are for the patient rather than going through the standard assessment process which might be quicker.’
Examples include sending in more than one member of the team, perhaps a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist, to see a patient on a visit.
Is there a shortage of women in lead commissioning roles?
Dr Benneyworth says: ‘In Somerset it’s never been raised as a huge issue. There are a few of us. I’ve never found it a particular barrier. Personally I think the most important thing is that people involved should be enthusiastic, whatever their gender. Particularly about patients being at the centre of the process.’
You sit on your health and wellbeing board, how is that going?
Dr Benneyworth says: ‘It’s early days but there’s a real opportunity to look at the holistic approach to patient care. There’s lots of good things going on in the community that health don’t necessarily know about. If we all work together, we have the best chance of meeting the outcomes we need to. This enables us to make a link with organisations including the police and other partners involved like the Department for Work and Pensions. It enables us to identify areas where we can work together to improve the situation.’
And what are your thoughts on the future?
Dr Benneyworth says: ‘I’m very optimistic. This is a huge opportunity for us to really start to work together with our patients to understand what their needs are in our communities to drive the change we need to improve the quality of care our patients receive.’
* Dr Benneyworth leads on urgent care and cancer commissioning for the Somerset CCG and sits on the shadow Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board.
Dr Benneyworth’s CV:
GP and trainer Dr Rosie Benneyworth has been involved with commissioning for the last four years. She was a board member of Wyvernhealth.com (the Somerset practice-based commissioning consortium) and now leads on urgent care and cancer commissioning for the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). She sits on the shadow Somerset Health and Wellbeing Board and believes that close working relationships between local authorities and CCGs are vital to ensure seamless care for patients. She has been involved in re-ablement work for the last two years, which is helping people to remain independent in their own homes.
* Read our Inside Commissioning blog for the latest thinking on redesigning healthcare
GP magazine is a media partner for Commissioning 2012, an event in London on 27-28 June featuring over 700 GPs and primary care managers. Speakers are expected to include health secretary Andrew Lansley and NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson.