Andy Curran on patient choice and long-term goals for health in Lancashire and South Cumbria

Date posted: 26th February 2022 Andy Curran on patient choice and long-term goals for health in Lancashire and South Cumbria thumbnail image

Andy Curran is the Executive Medical Director of Lancashire and South Cumbria’s Integrated Care System. He’s also a Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Royal Preston Hospital and Medical Director for the North West Air Ambulance.

Here, Andy explains how the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme isn’t a standalone project but is just one way in which local organisations are seeking to improve the long-term health and wellbeing of the region’s population.

What is the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System?

The Integrated Care System (or ICS) refers to the health and care system across Lancashire and South Cumbria. Within the ICS, we have the Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership (opens in new window). It sounds complicated, but it’s basically a partnership of organisations in the region, from local councils, universities and voluntary groups, to NHS organisations including hospital trusts, GPs and ambulance services.

Together, we want to ensure that communities are healthy and local people have the best start in life, so that they can live longer, healthier lives. The ICS works in a way which is led by the needs of our local population, combined with the expertise of our talented clinicians and care professionals.

What are the ICS’s priorities?

Over a ten-year period, from 2020 to 2030, the ICS is focusing on six key areas to help improve the health and wellbeing of the 1.8 million people living in our region. These are:

  • Health and Wellbeing of our communities: including health education and illness prevention
  • Living Well: including personalised care, maternity services, mental health, learning disabilities services and children’s services
  • Managing Illness: this is about our services working together at their very best
  • Urgent and Emergency Care: including mental health assessment centres
  • End of Life Care: including care of the elderly and palliative care
  • A healthy and happy workforce: in line with the national NHS People Plan (opens in new window).

This is all wrapped up in the ICS’s clinical strategy (opens in new window), explaining more about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how.   

So where does the New Hospitals Programme come in?

The New Hospitals Programme is one of the many ways in which the ICS is aiming to meet the goals of its clinical strategy by 2030. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform our hospital services, and we want to do that not as a separate, standalone project, but as part of our much bigger plan.

It’s about seamless care for our whole population. It’s about looking after our residents when they are poorly, but even before that, maintaining their wellbeing in the hope that they might not fall ill in the first place. And when they are poorly, it’s about making sure they’re in the right environment to make them better. We want to treat them with cutting edge technologies, but also make sure that they only come into hospital when they really need to. For this to happen, we want to create services where the hospital can come to its patients, making sure we have the same staff in the community as in the hospital building, as part of one seamless team.

What do you want to see from new hospital facilities in our region?

I want to meet the needs of everybody within our region, not just the majority, or specific groups, but everyone who lives here. That means that we need to give people choices and recognise that different people need very different things from our hospital buildings.

For example, digital technology is important to help modernise our services and make them more efficient. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Not everyone will be able to use a digital check in screen for example. So, in this instance, I would like to see digital technology enhance, not replace, our reception staff.

At Royal Preston Hospital, we have an amazing team of volunteers at the front desk assisting our reception staff, greeting patients, helping them find their way and putting them at ease once the formalities have taken place. These interactions are so important for people coming to hospital who are often nervous and in very unfamiliar surroundings, I want to make sure we keep hold of valuable services such as this.

We’ve also talked a lot about private rooms, and privacy is very important for so many people, for a variety of reasons. However, hospital can be a very lonely place at times and sometimes those interactions that patients can have on a ward, especially those who are with us for a long time, can be invaluable. It’s about having a choice.

Overall, I want hospitals to be welcoming, unintimidating places. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that the New Hospitals Programme presents and welcome the chance for it to further enhance the great work that is underway within our ICS.

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