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Staff representing a range of service areas with (centre, left) chief executive Penny Harris and (centre, right) chair Ingrid BarkerThe launch of a new NHS Trust this month means that the county’s seven community hospitals and a wide range of community health and social care services are now provided by Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust.

The new Trust, formed on 1 April 2013, was previously the ‘provider arm’ of NHS Gloucestershire. As part of government reforms to the NHS and along with all primary care trusts in England and Wales, NHS Gloucestershire has now been abolished and its commissioning responsibilities have been passed to Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, and its operational services to this new NHS Trust.

Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust provides a wide range of services to around 600,000 people in local communities across the county, with services including district nursing, health visiting, school nursing as well as specialist services such as sexual health, cardiac care, intravenous therapies, telehealth and dentistry. The Trust also delivers adult social care services on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council.   The new Trust also manages the county’s seven community hospitals. Working closely with local GPs and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Trust provides in-patient care as well as a range of out-patient clinics and services, including Minor Injuries Units at each of the seven hospitals.

The future for community health and social care in Gloucestershire is bright, according to Penny Harris, chief executive of Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust: "Becoming a NHS Trust is the beginning of an exciting new journey for Gloucestershire Care Services, one which will continue to involve our staff, patients and service users in developing innovative and effective ways to improve, shape and deliver our services to local communities.”  

“Perhaps our most significant recent innovation has been the introduction of integrated health and social care community teams. Working in partnership with Gloucestershire County Council, we have been able to bring together occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, reablement workers and community nurses to work as one team to serve their local community.  GPs also play a pivotal role in this co-ordinated approach to care, which is beginning to deliver real benefits for local people through better coordination of services between health and social care.”

Praising the dedication of the Trust’s three thousand six hundred staff, Penny Harris commented: “Our staff go the extra mile every day in their roles and are committed to providing compassionate care of the highest quality. I am constantly impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of our staff to improving services and embracing change, and it is to their great credit that we can look to the future with renewed confidence as a NHS Trust.”

A number of new or improved clinical services are being introduced across all community hospitals, which will continue to play a valued role in their local area.

At Lydney and District Hospital, for example, podiatric surgery is now available and a new audiology booth donated by the League of Friends will increase the number of audiology clinics offered to local people. The Trust has newly-built hospitals at the Vale Community Hospital and North Cotswold Hospital, where a soundproof audiology room has been installed recently to improve services for patients with hearing impairment. An intravenous therapy service (including blood transfusions) has also been introduced alongside the Trust’s specialist community team. The new George Moore Community Clinic at Bourton is now providing outpatient services. A new Tewkesbury Hospital will be opened later this year to provide modern, purpose-built facilities for the local community. Stroud General Hospital has also undergone a major refurbishment recently and building work at Cirencester Hospital will provide an extension to the Minor Injuries Unit.

Penny Harris commented: “Major investments in our hospital buildings, new ways of working with partner organisations and a focus on continuous improvement means we are well-placed to offer local people the highest quality of care, close to their home. “

Penny added: “Our focus as a new Trust will continue to be on what matters most for patients and service users, providing high quality health and social care for our local communities.”

Photo: Staff representing a range of service areas with (centre, left) chief executive Penny Harris and (centre, right) Ingrid Barker.