It takes me approximately 90 minutes to get to County Hall. Only 45 miles but traffic, A-roads and the middle of Nottingham have an effect. Life as a CCG Chair can mean a lot of time on the road, and as I usually do I hoped this meeting would be worth the trip.
Bassetlaw sits between Nottingham and South Yorkshire. Secondary care flow is north, with 2-tier local authorities, public health, community and mental health services based to the south in Nottinghamshire. It's a complicated arrangement, and is another reason why it's important to have a local commissioning voice for the patients of Bassetlaw.
I reflected as I walked in that I now visit County Hall at least once monthly, often twice. I'd been a student in Nottingham, been to Trent Bridge and Nottingham Forest many times (don't tell my parents, I was studying...) but never noticed the huge building over the road. It's a world of hushed corridors, paintings of stern looking councillors and, most noticeably, a place where to speak you usually have to press a button on a microphone. If only I could get the children at home to use the same system.
Back to the meeting. Health and Wellbeing Board meets 'Productive Notts', the joint partnership overseeing service change and efficiency within Nottinghamshire. Was it worth it? Absolutely. I often wonder what the term 'clinical commissioner' means. To me this was what it should mean. Not about contracts, but working with others to improve services, integrate responsibility and put patients first. With other CCG leads, we discussed care with chief executives of providers, social care directors and councillors. The highlight was a presentation by a Professor of Geriatric Medicine. I was one of his students, but didn't volunteer this as he looked younger than me.
Integration isn't about provision. It's about responsibility. We shared this in County Hall. The journey back seemed shorter, with a renewed sense of optimism.