South West Clinical Senate Reflections

The South West Clinical Senate met twice in November. In Bristol, a clinical review panel considered the Healthy Weston service reconfiguration; and the council meeting in Taunton discussed the essential clinical characteristics for networked delivery of Urgent Treatment Centres. Here Communications Manager Tim Edmonds, who joined the team in November, offers his perspective as a first-time observer on the two meetings:

“Both meetings were a real eye-opener for me – whilst I’d read about the work of the senate, I hadn’t expected such a lively debate and seeing the meeting in action really brought what I’d read to life.

Here, in one room, were experts in different fields of healthcare, from separate organisations representing all parts of the South West. What brought them together was being united in a common cause – to improve the system for patients.

At both meetings I was struck by the range of roles represented – surgeons were sat next to psychiatrists; pharmacists alongside Emergency Department consultants; public health consultants with paediatricians…and so on.

At the clinical review, those on the panel act as critical friends. They digest a huge amount of detailed information, probe deeply, and ask very challenging questions.

Across both meetings, I learned so much about the future of healthcare in Weston, Devon, Cornwall, and Gloucestershire, along with the bigger picture about what urgent treatment centres may look like into the future.

There was constructive challenge and praise in equal measure. Despite the subject matter, it didn’t come across as too ‘heavy’, so in one of the lighter moments I gained a bit more understanding about local dialects (‘Grockles’ was a new one on me…).

At both meetings, the very wide-ranging and detailed discussions were succinctly boiled down to a series of concise recommendations which I’m certain will help clinical leaders deliver an even better system.

Everyone’s opinion was equal – as was the patient’s opinion, here eloquently put into voice by Healthwatch and the Citizen’s Assembly.

For me, to be an eye-witness as some of the brightest clinical minds in our region debated some of the biggest challenges facing our health system was fascinating.

In what other forum, in any industry, do you get experts with such a diverse range of experiences, doing different jobs right across a region, giving up their time to work together to tackle an issue and come up with the best possible solution, not for any personal gain but through a desire to do the right thing?

There was an incredible level of commitment on display – and how refreshing that, as we head into winter and the external focus on the NHS shifts more and more on to performance against targets, here is a group passionately debating the merits, or otherwise, of changes and is united in wanting to make the system the best it can be, because they care.”

Tim Edmonds

Communications Manager

South West Clinical Networks and Senate, NHS England