At an introductory meeting, local MP, David Rutley, joined Clare Watson, the new Accountable Officer for the four Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), to discuss important health priorities for our area in the year ahead.
Ms Watson updated David on the ambitious collaborative work underway across the four local CCGs (which are: Eastern Cheshire, South Cheshire, West Cheshire, and Vale Royal), which it is intended will lead to them formally merging, providing more integrated and more fully effective support for the health needs of local residents across Cheshire. This will be done by bringing together health and social care to provide joined up services and care for local communities. Ms Watson will be leading on progressing the work already undertaken to achieve this important objective, which it is expected will formally take place in April 2020.
David and Ms Watson also spoke about other important health priorities across Cheshire, including the important redesign of acute specialist adult and older people's mental health services in East Cheshire. Having campaigned for many months alongside local residents, patients' groups and other local MPs, David welcomed the decision last November that vital adult inpatient beds are to stay in Macclesfield, where they belong, instead of moving to Chester, as originally proposed. Ms Watson confirmed that work to take these improved proposals forward continues to progress.
Ms Watson has a wide range of experience of working in the health service, both in the local Cheshire health economy, and elsewhere. Since 2017, she held the role of Interim Accountable Officer at NHS South Cheshire and NHS Vale Royal CCGs, which has familiarised her with the health needs of local communities in Cheshire. Prior to that, Ms Watson held the position of Director of Strategic Commissioning at NHS Tameside and NHS Glossop CCGs.
Speaking after the meeting, David said, " It was good to meet with Clare and to have the opportunity to discuss ongoing health priorities with her. It is clear that Clare brings a wealth of experience with her, from her previous work in Cheshire and elsewhere. I look forward to maintaining a constructive dialogue with her as she and her colleagues work to deliver on the vital work underway to ensure that the local health economy is more fully supportive of local patients in our area."