ALTON’S second public health consultation event attracted more than 150 people to Alton Community Centre to provide “a huge amount of feedback” on a wide range of health and health-related care services.

Top of the agenda for Altonians seems to be retention of Alton Community Hospital and ease of access to integrated health and care services for an expanding and ageing population.

Last Saturday’s event was run by the NHS North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group which now has the responsibility for collating and analysing these comments.

The clinical commissioning group is the organisation responsible for making sure that people continue to receive safe, high-quality health services but with a duty to make sure that services it funds are affordable and offer good value for money.

As such it is working in partnership with Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (responsible for Basingstoke Hospital), Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (responsible for Alton Community Hospital) and local GPs to carry out a review of health and health-related services needed to serve an expanding population, including an increasing number of older people and people living with long term health conditions.

The emphasis is on getting best value for money by making best use of staff, equipment and buildings.

As part of NHS, the review also has to take into account national policy and guidance including an increasing drive toward integration, making sure that all organisations planning and providing care are working effectively together to build services that meet the needs of patients and, where possible, providing care closer to home.

The clinical commissioning group has a number of committees and working groups which are helping to move the review forward, including a stakeholder reference group helping with public engagement, a clinical reference group looking at services, a programme team to link this information with finance, building, planning and policy, and a programme board made up of senior representatives from all participating organisations who will oversee the review, while the clinical commissioning group’s governing body will make the final decisions on any service changes.

Information gathered to date includes national and local policy guidance, guidelines on best practice, facts and figures on how health services are used, plus feedback from the Alton Neighbourhood Plan, and from surveys of use carried out at Alton Community Hospital and Alton Health Centre. Work has also started on how much is spent on healthcare in Alton and how this compares to other parts of north Hampshire.

As part of this data collection exercise, the clinical commissioning group now has a clearer picture of how the 30,269 patients registered with the four GP practices in Alton – Alton Health Centre, Chawton Park Surgery, Bentley Village Surgery and Boundaries Surgery at Four Marks – use health and health-related care services.

While these figures will be subject to further checks and analysis, they reveal that on an annual basis the four Alton practices can expect to deal with 40,000 outpatient appointments across 131 specialties, of which around 5,000 can be provided by community providers, more than 27,000 are provided by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust, of which approximately 28 per cent (7,500) are provided at Alton Community Hospital, and 8,000 by other acute trusts.

There are roughly 6,600 admissions to hospital each year, the majority (more than 5,000) are admitted to Hampshire Hospital Trust hospitals in Basingstoke or Winchester. More than half of all admissions are ‘day cases’.

About 95 people are admitted to community hospitals each year for intermediate or elderly care. Most of these admissions are patients ‘stepping down’ from general acute hospitals.

Some 2,200 ‘999’ calls are received with 59 per cent taken to hospital, 36 per cent dealt with at the scene, and five per cent helped over the phone.

There are around 5,000 visits to A&E at Basingstoke, 38 per cent (1,900) of which are classified as ‘minors’ requiring minimal or no treatment.

Two of the four Alton GP practices provide a walk-in minor injuries service which is used by just almost 2,000 people per year.

The NHS provides 29 different ‘community health services’, nearly all in the locality and 45 per cent in people’s own homes. Many of these people also benefit from social care services – in total 415 people receive council-funded social care.

The first public engagement event, held at the Alton Maltings Centre in January, was attended by around 300 people and threw up a number of issues.

It was clear that there is a strong local attachment to Alton Community Hospital and an overwhelming desire to see services there protected and expanded.

There were concerns that local health service provision needs to work in a more integrated way to meet the increasing demands on them from a growing, ageing population.

There were issues around access to GP and other primary care services and over difficulties faced by many people in accessing health services outside Alton.

Although there are no definite plans as yet, further work is to take place in areas such as encouraging healthy lifestyle choices, looking at new ways of working to enable primary care services to meet increasing demand, improved integration of health and care service provision, including rehabilitation and re-enablement support, and how to develop North and Mid Hampshire’s new model of care programme.

Health and care professionals will meet in April to discuss the information collected so far.