How care could be delivered

Care close to home

We know from talking to people across Lancashire and South Cumbria that accessible, local healthcare is a priority. We would always try to deliver services as close to people’s homes as possible – either in a community setting or in a hospital, where clinically appropriate. 

This would be supported by improved digital technology. We want to make sure people can conveniently access the support they need when it suits them, and that our colleagues can do their jobs more easily.

Most services are already supported by a networked group of clinicians who work across the trusts to make sure patients and their families have the best possible care.

Wherever possible, services that were traditionally only available in hospitals are increasingly being run from community settings. In recent years these have included some physiotherapy services, lung health services, and heart failure services. This has improved access for patients, and means people only need to go to hospital when they really need to.

Our focus on improving access to services in community settings continues, including better supporting those with ongoing long-term conditions. We are currently considering how we improve access to frailty, heart and respiratory services, for example.   

There are some services which would continue to be delivered in hospitals, and we want people to have equal access to the same high-quality standards no matter which hospital they go to.

Running services as a Lancashire and South Cumbria network has advantages because hospitals with shorter waiting times can offer appointments to patients whose nearest hospital has longer waits. This means patients can be seen quicker if they choose to travel. 

We are starting to see benefits of this approach already: patient waiting times for some diagnostic tests have improved because imaging services (such as CT scans, MRI scans, and X-Rays) are being run as a network across the four acute hospital trusts (Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust).

Specialised services

Specialised services support people with a range of rare and complex conditions. They can also be one part of a broader service which is carried out infrequently, for example thrombectomy (a surgical procedure used to remove blood clots from arteries and veins) is the specialised part of stroke services. 

Specialised services are not available in every local hospital because they must be delivered by specialist teams of health professionals who have the necessary skills and experience. 

It is crucial that these services are appropriately organised – this often means services are run from a centre of excellence where experts work together at one site. There is clear evidence that people needing complex procedures have better outcomes if they are treated in centres where these procedures are done often.

In Lancashire and South Cumbria we are fortunate that most of our specialised services are already set up in this way. These include major trauma, neurosciences, renal services, and most cancer surgery and cardiothoracic services.

However, there are a few specialised services that need to be reconfigured across Lancashire and South Cumbria to make sure we provide the highest possible quality of care. These include complex vascular surgery and complex surgery for both urology and head and neck cancers. 

Most of the care associated with these specialised services can be done in a community setting or in a patient’s local hospital, such as investigations, scans and outpatient appointments. Digital technology, such as video consultations, can be used wherever appropriate.

We would make sure that wherever possible patients are not having to travel further, but when they do, it’s because we believe the outcomes would be better. 

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