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Local Healthwatch find cautious optimism for the future of adults and older people’s care


picture of older Chinese woman with childHealthwatch Cambridgeshire met with 40 people last Wednesday, to share knowledge and ideas about the future of local older people’s health and adult community services (OPACS). Leaders from local NHS, social care and voluntary organsiations, patient representatives and colleagues from our other local Healthwatch came to the event.

We wanted to know what lessons had been learnt to help improve care, following the collapse of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) health care contract in December 2015.

As part of the event we sent a survey to the people invited, to understand what was important to them. At the event we listened to several presentations, looked at the results of the survey, and talked about a future model of care for older people.

Most people agreed the model of care in the OPACS contract was good and was starting to show benefits for local people. The mistakes that led to the end of the contract were complex, but at the heart was lack of cash in the local health system.  There is still anxiety for the future services due to this shortage of funds.

However, people are keen to work together. We heard that there was better joint working between some organisations since the contract collapsed, for example between the NHS and social services.  Everyone agreed effective joined up working with voluntary and community organisations was the way to go. Healthwatch will be looking closely to see that this happens.

We heard that old and fragmented ways of buying local health services are still reflected in what care is being provided now.  The money lost because of the contract collapse means it will take a long time to address some of the geographical differences in care locally – a sad reality check for those at the meeting.

We are concerned that not developing One View – the fledgling accessible information portal for staff and patients - is another hold-up to solving the essential need for joined up IT. A shared information system is essential to make joined-up care work.    

Sandie, our Chief Executive said:

“Healthwatch Cambridgeshire did not hear of any patients directly affected by the collapse of the contract. This is testimony to the hard work of staff on the ground despite everything. What was lost, however, was valuable time and money to develop the good ideas that the CCG are taking forwards again now.”

Val Moore, our Chair said:

“The contract was important nationally, as well as locally. It was the first time a CCG had wanted to buy care for people using an outcomes based framework.”

“The ideas for joined up services were right, but the contract failed due to a number of critical factors, including the multiple changes in the local health system since 2014.”

Since the OPACS contract ended, several reviews have been published, or are in progress, looking at what happened. We are developing a timeline with links to important information and events. 

We worked with Healthwatch Peterborough, Peterborough City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and the CCG to plan and deliver this learning event. 

If you have a story to share about older people’s care, please tell us. It is important that we understand how care is working for older people in Cambridgeshire right now. Call us on 01480 420628, email enquiries@healthwatchcambridgeshire.co.uk or tell us online.

 - Go to our timeline to find all public reports abut the collapse - 


Healthwatch Cambridgeshire presentation

OPACS contract survey response

Integrated Community Services update letter – CCG and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Trust.