Headlines: May 12th, 2005

The Community Hospitals Association has been examining ways in which the ‘secret potential’ of the institutions could be used to greater effect within the wider National Health Service. It took “Community Hospitals – a secret worth sharing” as the theme for a three-day meeting following an editorial that appeared in the British Journal of General Practice in 2001 describing the units as ‘the best-kept secret of the contemporary NHS’.Each of the three days developed an aspect of the ‘secret’ under the headings Front-line staff – a secret asset, Unravelling the secret of changing roles and Close to home – a secret weapon. Key speakers included Dr David Colin-Thome, National Clinical Director for Primary Care at the Department of Health, Lynne Young, Primary Health Care Adviser at the Royal College of Nursing, Chris Howgrave-Graham from the, Modernisation Agency and Trish Jay, Director of Clinical Development at the Herefordshire Primary Care Trust.

On staff the Association believes the people who have day-to-day contact with patients and who deliver care year in and year out are a resource that is frequently underestimated. The event examined development in NHS policy that could help recognise their value and improve the quality and range of services they deliver.

The conference went on to discuss how professional boundaries were shifting and to examine some of these movements and their implications for all those working in and around community hospitals. The final day of the conference had a clinical theme and looked at how hospitals manage people with chronic conditions.

The Association believed that with the NHS needing to deliver effective chronic disease management, it was important to debate what roles community hospitals could play in the delivery of improved care close to home that would relieve pressure on the acute sector.