She has served thousands of patients as a GP – and now Dr Linda Collie is helping people across Portsmouth in a new role.
Earlier this year, Linda was appointed to lead Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as its chief clinical officer and clinical leader.
Having spent seven years as a GP as Eastshore Practice, Linda now splits her time between the surgery and the CCG where she was formerly the clinical executive.
As part of her new role, Linda will work with a range of organisations to ensure Portsmouth people are getting the best possible care.
But she says this is not without its challenges.
‘The NHS is always changing because the demand placed upon it is changing,’ she says.
‘We have been working hard to overcome this and looking at what are doing in the city like the Portsmouth Blueprint.
‘The Blueprint has set out what we plan to do in the city and what we hope to achieve.
‘We are learning from that to see how it can work.
‘Our vision hasn’t really changed since drawing up the Blueprint.
‘But it is about strategising the care for Portsmouth patients.
‘It is our operational plan that we are working through.’
One of the key focuses Linda and her CCG colleagues are working on is getting different health agencies working alongside each other.
Over the past few years, many have faced budget cuts and the need to reduce services.
Linda said they are hoping to combat some of these problems by encouraging teams to work closer.
She adds: ‘Part of our plan is the drive to join the services back together.
‘They put all the support into the providers and primary care and it’s always been very distinct.
‘The biggest challenge is putting some of that back together.
‘That is probably the biggest challenge at the moment.
‘The opportunity has been presented now because of the requirements in funding and demand.
‘Groups have always had the desire but there’ve been barriers in the way.
‘Now we’ve got the permission to break down the barriers.’
Another challenge facing health services in the city is the increase in demand.
Portsmouth has high levels of obesity, smokers and a lack of residents doing regular exercise.
Linda says: ‘The health outcomes for the city are often poorer than other areas.
‘We are a densely-populated city and the demand on our services is a big problem.
‘We have to try and make sure the services are keeping up to date with the demand.
‘Driving up the quality so the outcomes for patients are better, that’s one of our main areas.
‘As part of the system, we are all responsible for helping to fix issues – it is a whole system response.
‘We all have to make sure everyone is brought together to look at the issues.’
One way they are hoping to reduce demand is by working closer with patients.
Linda says challenges start when people go and see their GPs for problems that could be treated by other services, such as pharmacies or NHS 111.
She adds: ‘There are people going to see GPs for issues that don’t need a doctor.
‘It is about looking at these patients to see who can help them.
‘There is a lot of change, but what we are trying to do is make the patients involved in this.
‘We have got Patient Participation Groups and we explain to them about what these changes will mean to them.
‘It means accessing the help we need, but not necessarily what we have now – something that can be better.’
As part of this push, the CCG is hoping to bring care hubs into Portsmouth.
They will be places people can go to see a range of medical experts from physiotherapists to community nurses.
Linda says: ‘We are trying to have hubs of care in the city.
‘It is likely to be limited on what patients can access if they have to see a GP – these hubs are about thinking slightly differently.
‘It will be staffed by all different teams so physiotherapists, nurses, health care support workers.
‘It will be a real team effort.
‘It is about looking at what we offer now and what we could do better.
‘The hubs can be used by people with long-term conditions such as diabetes, respiratory cases etc.
‘But they will also work for people who have got an acute problem on the day, the feedback is they don’t mind who they see.
‘Patients can go to one place and get whatever help they require without having to pushed around the system.
‘It is about how people can go and get whatever they need.’
One of the things they are looking at is primary care and community nurses.
Linda says they need to help people stay in their homes and get care where they are comfortable and not in hospitals or care home.
‘Some of the stuff we are looking at is primary care and the community nurses,’ she adds.
‘We can help services to help people stay at home.
‘It is more things like that the Blueprint is trying to do.
‘We know it is critical for people to stay in their homes where they can and not to be stuck in hospital or care homes.
‘People recover better in their homes and we want to help services to provide this.’