Our aim is simple: to make sure the people of Epping Forest, Harlow and Uttlesford have access to and get the very best possible care when they need it and live long, healthy and happy lives.
Bringing together the 35 GP practices across the area as the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), we set the priorities for local NHS services to ensure they are right for all who live here.
Under the guidance of the GPs - based on their clinical expertise, knowledge and understanding of the communities they care for - we plan, monitor and commission most of the health services in west Essex.
This includes hospital, A&E, community health, mental health and rehabilitation services, as well as continuing healthcare for people with, for example, learning disabilities or physical frailties.
Our job is to make sure these services meet local needs and are provided to the highest standard.
With the help of clinicians, and the experiences and views of patients, we identify where improvements are necessary and that the money we get from the Government is spent wisely.
Although our local health and care services are among the best in England, we face tough challenges ahead.
With a growing population and more of us living longer, our doctors, nurses, therapists and other professionals are looking after record numbers of people every day.
Despite being under immense pressures, it’s thanks to the dedication and hard work of those involved, and the support of many voluntary carers, community and charity organisations, we are getting the help we need.
Change must be allowed to happen, however, where it’s needed if we are to protect the health and care services we value so much, not just for now but for future generations.
West Essex’s NHS and social care services have constantly adapted, and must continue to do so, as our community and health needs also change.
We are being treated with new drugs and models of clinical care that weren’t available in the past. With this comes an increase in life expectancy, but also a rise in the ailments of old age. More people now have conditions such as heart disease, arthritis and Type 2 diabetes. Social isolation is another concern.
All of us at the CCG, our local GPs, hospitals and other service providers, including those in social care, are working closer together than ever before, planning and reshaping services to benefit us all - now and in the years ahead.
We are combining our expertise and resources to develop ways of giving our nurses, doctors and other professionals the best chance to look after us when we need them to.
This includes reducing the pressures on our hospitals and A&E departments, providing better and more care closer to or in people’s homes and busting the barriers between services to speed up diagnosis and treatment and cut waste and duplication.
In particular, we are making it easier to see a GP by extending surgery hours, and improving access to information and advice online and through NHS111.
But the biggest single factor in the long term is to prevent ill health and deaths caused by the effects of lifestyle choices such as diet, lack of exercise and smoking.
This is something we can all play a part in; everyone Living and working in west Essex.
All of us can do those little things each day that help us stay healthy and well, like watching what we eat and drink, being more active and having regular check-ups.
We can all do our bit. Let’s work together for a healthy west Essex!