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Challenges and Opportunities

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We know that we face many challenges and opportunities that will affect our ability to deliver quality services in the future. These include an increasing older population with multiple long-term conditions and care needs, and the impact of a decreasing workforce and vacancies in some key services. We are not alone with these challenges – many areas across the country face the same issues.

Our partners, doctors and nurses agree that people will experience poorer health outcomes unless we take action. We need to plan services for the future to improve quality, using the available budget and resource as efficiently as possible.



Our services are generally safe and well led, but we face changing and increasing demands on our services. We need to look at a different way to run our services so our care remains high quality and safe. Some of the challenges we face include:


Urgent and emergency care: People are confused about which service to use, with services open at different times. To help, we need to respond to the national plans to develop local Urgent Treatment Centres

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Hospital admissions: Sometimes people are admitted to hospital when they could be seen at a service in the community instead. It can sometimes take a long time for people to return home from hospital once they are well enough


Waiting times: There are longer waiting times for some key services including A&E, mental health and cancer treatment


Cancer: There are longer delays in the detection of some cancers at an early stage. Waiting times for treatment are longer than the national average


Hospital care: Demand is growing, and there are more cancelled operations than in other parts of England

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Community services: These can be very different across the county, which could lead to different outcomes for local people


Primary care: Our GP practices are struggling with rising demands because the number of older people is increasing. Patient expectations are also increasing

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Social care: Increasing demand and costs for older and disabled people


Care homes: The market is very fragile, and the standards and availability can vary across the county

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Mental health: In the past, mental health services have not had the same profile and funding as physical health services


Children’s services: Increasing demand for intensive support.





Helping people to be healthier, to stay well for longer and know how to self-care for minor illnesses ​


Signposting and education about the support available​

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Identifying patients at risk early on so that they can get support without having to go to hospital


Bringing professionals and services together to support people in their community and avoid going to hospital


Help people access non-clinical support, for example befriending support, by working with local communities


More services in the community, nearer to people’s homes

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Offering continuity of carer by having teams of staff


Working more efficiently to offer more appointments and shorter waiting times​. Designing services that make best use of resources


Using technology to reduce waiting and travelling time, and reduce clinical time for minor appointments 


Equal and fair access to specialist treatment and high quality inpatient beds

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Workforce: Recruiting new staff and supporting our existing staff.


Read more

Health and Care in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent [Main Document]

Health and Care in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent [Summary]