Chair's message

EVERY year I look back and am amazed with what we have managed to achieve and 2018 was no different. It was another busy but incredibly productive year, with us all working hard to benefit our community.

Last year we had a number of really great outcomes for our organisation. We were rated as ‘good’, as part of NHS England’s annual assurance process, and congratulated on our progress - particularly in relation to our strong leadership.

We were praised for our exemplary urgent care recovery throughout the winter period - especially during the 'Beast from the East' in March 2018 - and our sustained performance in making improvements to health services. One of these is our Seasonal Resilience plan, which is making a real difference to managing winter pressures across the system.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

As an organisation we’ve also been successful on a country-wide level. We’ve seen our North East Essex Diabetes Service win a national award and witnessed our Mental Health Hub and High Intensity User projects shortlisted too.

Staff celebrate the NEEDS win

Community Beds, Hub and Spoke, Urgent Treatment Service, Discharge to Assess, Care Homes and getting Extended Access up and running are just some of our current and future projects. There are more, too many to name, but thank you all for all your hard work, creativity, energy and determination in making a difference for our patients, their carers and families.

70km to celebrate 70 years

We've also had some fun - celebrating the NHS 70th birthday with friends, family and colleagues - which saw some of us take part in a 70 kilometre (40 mile) bike ride. We hosted a tea party to celebrate the milestone moment with 75 guests and we created a postcard campaign asking people why the NHS is so important to them (there were lots of great responses).

We ended the year on a high note - literally - hosting the Big Sing carol concert which saw 180 of us in fine voice, led by the Mayor and Mayoress in Colchester's Town Hall, with the Colchester Singers and colleagues from organisations across the health and care services.

As 2018 drew to a close there were changes within the organisation. Our previous Accountable Officer, Sam Hepplewhite, moved on to a new role. However, Sam done a fantastic job in inspiring; challenging us to do better, working together beyond organisational boundaries and to always put improving the patient experience at the heart of our decisions. I wish her and David all the very best for their future.

However, I am delighted that Dr Ed Garratt has accepted the interim Accountable Officer role, bringing his wealth of experience and knowledge of our wider locality and partners with him.

Ed joined the organisation in January 2019
"I am very much looking forward to taking on this role," said Dr Ed Garrett. "The NEE CCG is an excellent organisation and I will be honoured to be part of their high performing health care system. My priority will be developing further the local ‘alliance’ working in north east Essex. I would like to pay tribute to Sam Hepplewhite and the strong legacy she has created.”

Finally I look forward to working with you all this year.

Thank you, Dr Hasan Chowhan

NHS launches Long Term Plan

The NHS is one of our nation’s greatest achievements and for 70 years dedicated NHS staff have been there for us in north east Essex and across the country. However, more people are living longer - many with complex health conditions - so the NHS needs to plan so it can work more smartly and effectively, deliver excellent care and attract and retain the best staff.

Last summer the Prime Minister committed an extra £20.5 billion a year going into the NHS in England by 2023/2024. That’s why the NHS nationally has written a Long Term Plan, developed in partnership with those who know the NHS best - front line health and care staff, patients and their families. The NHS Long Term Plan will make sure the NHS is fit for the future, providing high-quality care and better health outcomes for patients and their families, through every stage of life.

Dr Ed Garratt, NEE CCG interim Accountable Officer, said: “We look forward to working with our partners across the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance, as well as patients and staff, over the coming months to turn the ambitions contained in the plan into real improvements in services for people in north east Essex.”

The Plan includes:

Giving everyone the best start in life:

• Through better maternity services, including a dedicated midwife looking after a mother throughout her pregnancy.

By joining up services from birth through to age 25, particularly improving care for children with long-term conditions like asthma, epilepsy and diabetes and revolutionising how the NHS cares for children and young people with poor mental health with more services in schools and colleges.

Delivering world-class care for major health problems to help people live well:

With faster and better diagnosis, treatment and care for the most common killers - including cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease - in order to achieve survival rates that are among the best in the world.

Supporting families and individuals with mental health problems and making it easier to access talking therapies as well as transforming how the NHS responds to people experiencing a mental health crisis.

And helping people age well:

By providing fast and appropriate care in the community - including in care homes - thereby preventing avoidable hospital admissions for frail and older people.

By significantly increasing the numbers of people who can take control of their healthcare through personal budgets.

The Long Term Plan also describes the actions that will need to be taken at local, regional and national level to make this ambitious vision a reality. These are:

1. Joining up the NHS so patients don’t fall through the cracks, such as by breaking down the barriers between GP services and those in the community.

2. Helping individuals and families to help themselves, by taking a more active role in preventing ill-health, such as offering dedicated support to people to stop smoking, lose weight and cut down on alcohol.

3. Tackling health inequalities by working with specific groups who are vulnerable to poor health, with targeted support to help homeless people, black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups, and those with mental illnesses or learning disabilities.

4. Backing our workforce by increasing the number of people working in the NHS, particularly in mental health, primary care and community services. We will also create a better working environment by offering better training, support and career progression and we’ll crack down on bullying and violence at all levels.

5. Bringing the NHS into the digital age, rolling out technology such as new digital GP services that will improve access and help patients make appointments, manage prescriptions and view health records on-line.

6. Spending this extra investment wisely, making sure money goes where it matters most. The NHS will continue to reduce waste, tackle variations and improve the effectiveness of treatments.

Now the national plan has been published, we – as the local health and care system in north east Essex – need to decide how best to take the ambitions it contains and turn them into real improvements in services over the next few years, building on the progress we have already made in recent years by working more closely together.

And just as the national plan was developed in partnership with patients, staff, local councils and others, so will be our own local plans.

More details about opportunities to help shape those plans will be shared shortly. In the meantime, to read a copy of the national plan and find out more, please visit www.longtermplan.nhs.uk

Take small steps to make big changes

THE NEE CCG's Small Steps, Big Change campaign has been picked up by NHS England - as a good campaign to adopt.

To support this year’s recent Self-Care Week a ‘small steps, big change’ campaign was created and promoted the message that by taking small steps in our daily lives to self-care, we can all make big changes and at the same time help ease pressure on General Practitioners and Accident & Emergency departments.

All winter illnesses are covered

To depict the small steps, posters and flyers have been created showing small workmen like figures aiding people to self-care, covering ailments from sore throats, coughs and colds, beating flu, trips and falls, back pain to good hand hygiene, as well as giving advice on getting quick expert advice and treatment from your local pharmacist and NHS111.

”I love that CCG staff are supporting the campaign by producing their own photos of their figures self-caring"
Dr Hasan Chowhan, NEE CCG Chairman, said: “The small steps, big change campaign will play a fundamental part in promoting self-care all through the winter months. If we can all take our own small steps to self-care, together we can all make such a difference. If just 10% of those in our area went to their pharmacist or called NHS 111 - rather than use A&E for advice on treating minor ailments - we would see around 1,500 fewer people using the A&E service which is there for those who need it."

Hat-trick of honours for CCG

THE NEE CCG recently celebrated picking up a hat-trick of honours at the Quality in Care (QiC) awards.

The CCG’s North East Essex Diabetes Service (NEEDS) team were outright winners in the ‘Diabetes Education Programme - Adults’ award and were also highly commended by QiC judges in both the ‘Diabetes Team Initiative of the Year – Adults’ and the ‘Best Practice Dissemination and Sustainability' award categories.

Praising the service for its ‘Diabetes Education Programme - Adults’, NEEDS worked with inpatient clinical pharmacists to help them increase their skills and knowledge. The QiC judges congratulated the team for ‘building a robust training programme’ which ‘could be replicated elsewhere in the health service’.

NEEDS was praised for their ‘out of the box thinking’ in the ‘Diabetes Team Initiative of the Year – Adults’ category. Working with Anglia Community Enterprise, the project helped housebound diabetics who need a daily visit from a community nurse to administer insulin but whose diabetes control remained poor. The project significantly reduced the amount of community nurse visits and improved patient outcomes and their quality of life at the same time.

Working with Essex and Suffolk North East Foundation Trust, which won the ‘Best Practice Dissemination and Sustainability’ award for its ‘Evolvement and Expansion of the DICE Programme’, NEEDS were highly commended in the category for redesigning their service.

Lianne Jongepier, NEE CCG Head of Clinical Quality Transformation – Planned Care, commented: “We’re overjoyed with our hat-trick of honours at what we consider to be the Oscars of the diabetes world as it really demonstrates the great work that our NEEDS service delivers.”

CCG teams reach finals

THE NEE CCG was delighted that two of its projects were nominated in the highly prestigious Health Service Journal awards.

Despite the CCG’s High Intensity User Project and Tendring Mental Health Hub teams not scooping the accolades at the awards ceremony in London, reaching the finals is a fantastic achievement.

From left: Stacy Bloomfield-Luck, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, ACE CIC, Boena Zeneli, Business Manager for Planned Care Transformation, NEE CCG, Alan Hewitt, Associate Locality Director of Quality, IC24, and Dr Philip Brown, GPwSi in Emergency and Unscheduled Care and Emergency and Pre-Hospital Care Physician.

The Tendring Mental Health Hub was shortlisted for the ‘Innovation in Mental Health’ award. Based at the Tendring Community Clothing Hub, the project helps those with mental health issues as they’re often at risk of social isolation, poverty, substance misuse and being victims or perpetrators of crime. Supporting them with drop-in or referral appointments, many who receive help go on to become shop volunteers. In fact, during 2017/2018 activity at the Hub included 4,254 interventions, 272 new clients and 38 new volunteers.

The Hub offers more than just clothing

Additionally, the High Intensity Users Project (HITU) was shortlisted for the ‘Improvement in Emergency and Urgent Care’ award. This project identified patients who use health emergency services inappropriately, such as ambulances and A&E.

Boena Zeneli, NEE CCG Business Manager, who worked on the HITU project, said: “It was a wonderful evening and we were honoured to have been invited to attend. It has been a great boost to be recognised for our work to support our patients.”
Charlie Davies, NEE CCG Senior Mental Health Commissioning Manager, who worked with the Tendring Mental Health Hub team, added: “When we began this project, we could not have imagined what an extraordinary success it has been, making such a tangible difference to the lives of so many of our patients every day.”

New app launched for COPD patients

A NEW health self-management app to help COPD patients has been launched by the NEE CCG.

Working with fellow healthcare providers, such as Anglian Community Enterprise, the myCOPD app is now available to purchase or is free for those who meet the criteria.

Designed to support patients at any stage of the disease, the myCOPD app offers users training techniques for every type of inhaler device; prescription assessment which identifies if an inhaler medication conflicts with what the patient has been subscribed and a self-management plan to help people understand what medication to take and when.

All inhalers are catered for

It also features a six-week pulmonary rehabilitation programme; symptom and assessment tracking; weather and pollution forecasting - as poor air quality can have an adverse effect - and a facility to help patients monitor their lung function.

Lianne Jongepier, NEE CCG Head of Clinical Quality Transformation – Planned Care, said: “The myCOPD app offers patients a one-stop-shop at the tip of their fingers and has many innovative features but the main aim is to help improve patient awareness and self-management skills.”

For more information or to download the myCOPD app please visit:

Slipper Exchange gives Sylvia a new lease of life

AN elderly woman who is prone to falls due to a hereditary muscle wasting disease has had her life transformed due to the NEE CCG and the independent charity, Community360.

Colchester resident, Mrs Sylvia Ridley has been diagnosed with dementia and the hereditary muscle wasting disease Charcot-Marie-Tooth - meaning she is more susceptible to trips and falls.

Sylvia attended a Community360 Slipper Exchange fitting service at her local surgery which sees people swap their old misshapen slippers for a new better fitting pair.

Slippers galore with more in store

During the fitting Sylvia and her daughter, Karen Lawes, praised the facility and asked about the other services available at Community360, some of which are financed by the NEE CCG as it provided £275,000 in funding for voluntary projects throughout the Colchester and Tendring districts in 2018.

During the slipper fitting session Sylvia mentioned Shop Mobility and Community Transport, two services that are available due to the funding.

Following the fitting, Sylvia booked a mobility scooter and with her daughter went on a shopping trip in Colchester town centre, an activity that previously had been difficult for them to do together.

Have scooter, will travel (Sylvia front with Jo Bryant, Community360 Engagement Officer)

Sylvia – who due to her dementia can become confused – benefited from the experience as it helped her memory and socialising skills, such as remembering her way around the town centre to conversing with shop assistants.

“We’re delighted that the projects that we’ve provided funding for are changing peoples’ lives and it’s wonderful that Sylvia can now live a more independent lifestyle,” said Pam Green, NEE CCG Director of Transformation and Strategy. “It really does go to show that sometimes you can really transform someone’s life by doing something as easy as providing a pair of slippers.”

Providing funds for the winter period

PROJECTS aimed at tackling social isolation in Colchester and Tendring have received over £100,000 in funding thanks to the NEE CCG.

Tracy Rudling, Chief Executive Officer of Community 360 (left), collects the cheque from former NEE CCG Chief Officer, Sam Hepplewhite

The £110,000 was donated to the One Colchester Partnership - which features 20 organisations - to allow it to deliver a range of outreach activates at the One Colchester Shop. The activities are designed to help alleviate isolation during the winter months and promote better health with the aim of preventing hospital admissions for non-emergency matters.

The funding will help improve access to transport and community services for those with limited mobility, allow winter warmer packs to be issued as part of the Winter Resilience Project, the backing to conduct roadshows and events in local neighbourhoods to promote the services available and much, much more.

Lab looks at seasonal operations

THE North East Essex Health and Wellbeing (NEE H&W) Alliance recently hosted a one day ‘Seasonal Operations Challenge Lab’ and were joined by system partners and academics from the University of Essex.

The workshop - called ‘AGILE’ - gave Alliance partners and university academics the opportunity to explore new initiatives, ideas and analyse whole system improvements so that sustainable public services can be offered throughout the seasons.

Some of the ideas put forward included using apps and making use of virtual assistants (for example ‘Alexa’ and ‘Siri’) for health and care information, while discussions took place about shared challenges across the system - such as prevention, risk and governance.

By working together, the NEE H&W Alliance will conduct research and use the findings to put forward solutions which will not only provide a system-wide transformation but will also build improved system resilience into the seasonal planning process.

To reduce pressures on key public services – such as transport, education, health and care etc. - the Challenge Lab identified opportunities for whole-system change and looked at how to agree health and care projects that transform both service provision and patients experiences.

The workshop looked at reducing pressure on transport

After identifying ‘pinch points’ for Essex, the delegates highlighted opportunities for work to start, by using 2017/2018 statistics from patient data, along with how to improve system resilience using current knowledge.

Since the workshop, outcomes have included:

1. Signing up to the Essex data sharing partnership;

2. Working with the University of Essex as the Alliance’s preferred ‘big data’ partner;

3. Potential data analytics partner for an End of Life project to develop a value-based population health model.

Speaking after the event, Mark Jarman-Howe, St Helena Hospice CEO, said: "I’m really encouraged at the range and quality of the discussions we've had. Our friends from the University of Essex really helped us to push through issues, think differently and remove blockages.

"It’s something I’m very keen to repeat - the fresh perspective, the sharing of winter plans and subsequent discussions with voluntary sector, commissioners, acute trusts and emergency services."

Improving ways of working

AN event for GP surgery staff which was designed to share best practice and improve ways of working in primary care found that 97% of those attending thought it was “excellent” and “full of useful information”.

Held at the Colchester Weston Homes Community Stadium and hosted by NEE CCG and NHS England’s National General Practice Development team, the ‘Releasing Capacity in General Practice Showcase Event’ saw 53 surgery staff from across north east Essex attend.

Much was discussed on the day

On the day attendees took part in a programme of discussions to help them learn from each other as well as look at some of the national initiatives that have been implemented to help release capacity and free up GPs time. They also focused on NHS England’s ‘Releasing Time for Care’ initiative and the 10 high-impact actions that form part of the GP Forward View.

The GP Forward View saw practice staff discuss active signposting; new consultation types; reducing ‘Did Not Attends’; developing the team; productive work flows; personal productivity; partnership working; social prescribing; supporting self-care and developing Quality Improvement expertise.

Breakout sessions proved popular

During the feedback and breakaway sessions GPs and practice staff voiced the most prominent topics to them which included the frequency of visits to care homes; working collaboratively, training receptionists to ask about patents illnesses and conditions as they can see the right healthcare professional. Also, improved use of technology was discussed such as cancelling appointments via text message.

Imogen Witt, NEE CCG GP Engagement Lead, said: “We were delighted with how many practices attended the event. On the day we had practice managers, GPs and other surgery staff come along and share their views. Those attending were really engaging and conversations continued well after the event finished."

GP access campaign launched

A CAMPAIGN to promote access to evening and weekend General Practitioner (GP) appointments has been launched by NHS England.

The campaign – part of NHS England’s Help Us Help You – aims to raise awareness among the general public of the availability of appointments with GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals outside of working hours.

To promote the campaign a range of materials have been produced and can be downloaded for free from

Minor eye condition service available

PEOPLE suffering minor eye problems in the Colchester and Tendring area are able to receive a free NHS optical check-up at a local participating optician.

The Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS) can examine and if appropriate treat patients with optical problems such as red, sore or watery eyes, ingrowing eyelashes, visual disturbances and much more.

The service is available at a number of high-street optical chains and independent opticians in the Colchester and Tendring districts.

The eye check-ups - which are different and separate from a sight test - offer people the convenience of receiving treatment in their local high street without needing a doctor’s appointment or attending Accident and Emergency (A&E).

Depending on the condition, many people can be seen for an appointment within 24 hours in urgent cases and within a few days for routine appointments.

It is believed that currently around 4.5 million doctor’s appointments and 270,000 A&E visits are taken up every year for eye related problems, many of which could be assessed by an optician.

Dr Hasan Chowhan, NEE CCG Chairman, said: “We are delighted that the new MECS service can now become the first port of call for anyone with a minor eye condition.

“Local opticians have the skills, equipment and qualified staff to ensure that people are quickly assessed and treated - or in some cases referred to hospital if there is a more serious problem. Obviously this will be more convenient for people but it will also help reduce the pressure on the NHS at the same time.”

For more information about the service and participating practices, please visit the NEE CCG website.

Time to Change for CCG

THE NEE CCG has signed the Time to Change pledge as part of an initiative to raise awareness about mental health.

By signing the pledge, the CCG is demonstrating its commitment to change how it thinks and acts towards employees with mental health issues in the workplace and to ensure they feel supported.

Signing the pledge

As part of its commitment the CCG has drawn up a staff action plan to help tackle the stigma surrounding mental health.

Signed by more than 900 employers, the Time to Change pledge is part of a social movement to change attitudes by the charities MIND and Rethink Mental Illness.

Sam Hepplewhite, former NEE CCG Chief Officer, said: “It is extremely important that we break down the barriers that prevent people from being open and honest about any concerns they are facing as well as tackle the stigma surrounding mental health.”

New support team to increase digital skills

A NEW support team is now available at Creffield Medical Group, Colchester, and is offering digital skills to patients.

Since November 2018, the Digital Access Support team project – which was jointly funded by the NEE CCG and Colchester Borough Council (CBC) – has been offering patients advice on how to digitally book and cancel appointments, order repeat prescriptions (based on their online records) and help set up email accounts. Designed by Silicon Practice Ltd, the project has been designed to not only give patients new skills but also help support reception staff.

“Digital access has a big role to play in the future of the NHS so we’re really excited to be able to work with the council to increase awareness,” stated Dr Hasan Chowhan, NEE CCG Chairman and GP at Creffield Medical Group.
“This innovative partnership will actively guide patients who may not traditionally use the web,” commented Jane Oddy, Operations Director at Silicon Practice. “It will be a huge step to helping all patients to capitalise on the benefits of using digital services.”

Community come together for Big Sing

THE North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance were proud to present the Big Sing Festive Event at Colchester town hall in December 2018.

The Big Sing was an opportunity for staff, family and friends of the emergency services, plus the Colchester and Tendring community, to join together at the end of the NHS’s 70th year.

The Mayor and Mayoress joined the Big Sing

There was a fun-filled singalong to seasonal songs, with traditional carols and more modern family favourites sung by The Colchester Singers and directed by the Honorary Borough Organist, Ian Ray.

Hitting the high notes

Speakers from across the health and care sector, including organisations from the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance, treated the audience to a series of speeches and seasonal readings. The Mayor of Colchester, Councillor Peter Chillingworth, and the Mayoress, Mrs Ann Chillingworth, also attended the event.

Former NEE CCG Accountable Officer, Sam Hepplewhite, with the speakers

The historic surroundings of the Moot Hall (pictured right) provided the perfect backdrop for guests to reflect on the vital role the service plays in all of our lives.

Sam Hepplewhite, former NEE CCG Chief Officer, said: “I was delighted to see many of our colleagues from our partner organisations in the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance come together with family, friends, and the Colchester and Tendring community for this fabulous occasion."


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