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Primary care blog: Community care groupies, our time is now

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RCN primary care guru and Nursing Times blogger Lynn Young welcome the 'wonderful' challenges that 2009 has in store

The Department of Health in England is clearly determined to achieve what has never been achieved before, despite huge efforts and political will.

The year of 2009 will see us community groupies running around in circles trying to keep up with the Government agenda of giving the public what it has previously declared it wants – care closer to home and far more health services delivered out of hospital.

What a wonderful challenge we now have before us? And we community folk have to do more, and do it differently, if success is to come our way.

There is a huge amount to do, but at a DH event it was quite clear that a number of completely brilliant and highly motivated people in the world of community health are making significant progress.

Tackling health inequalities is the toughest of all nuts to crack, but crack we must if people in Tower Hamlets are to live as long as those in sunny Dorking.

While it is true that socio-economic conditions are the major cause of health inequalities, spectacular primary care services can make a significant difference to health and well being. We need to get to those people in greatest health need and not wait for them to choose to come to us.

Primary care services must be close by, easy to access, friendly, warm and beckoning. There has to be a spirit of friendship and a great sense of working with people, not being judgemental and patronising.

A number of Government initiatives aim to identify people at risk of poor health and premature death. The latest example is the cardio vascular risk assessment programme which will be available to everyone in England from the ages of 40 to 74 years from April 2009 onwards.

PCTs have been charged with commissioning their local services and a framework has been published to help them on their way.

My question is, will the people who most need this test willingly visit their local health centre to get it? Or, will it more of the worried well, who least need it, who will make most use of it?

At an event held to discuss the implementation of this programme it was made abundantly clear that participants were enthusiastic about finding ways of encouraging our more shy health users to take advantage of this health assessment.

This programme must be a good thing, when you see the catastrophic results of major strokes, cardiac failure and diabetes. So often, these miserable conditions can be prevented, but we simply need to turn the NHS titanic around and make it a health-enhancing, rather than a fix-it service.

So, lets put our faith into the transforming community services agenda and while we fully understand that heaps of work has yet to be done to get to the land of health and well being, success would make so many people happier with their lives.

In the meantime, it feels that 2009 will need all my energy and stoicism if I am to make my contribution to the transformation scenario. I try to live a healthy though not utterly pure life. In the words of the singer Bryan Adams, 19 Till I Die continues to be my preferred style of daily living.

This blog also appears at

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