Clinical clarity

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Thank you for publishing the letter from P. W. Watson (Gazette, February 12) in relation to the difference between NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The NHS can be confusing, especially understanding which organisation does what.

Clinical commissioning groups came into being in April, 2013, when they took over the responsibility for ‘commissioning’ the majority of local health services from primary care trusts.

Commissioning is the process of buying the care that patients need, either in hospital, in the community, or at home, and then monitoring those services and making sure they are providing the level of care we expect.

To do this we contract a range of NHS, independent and voluntary sector organisations to provide care and local services. Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the main provider of hospital services in Coastal West Sussex.

Among others, we also commission from Sussex Community NHS Trust, which provides community nursing services, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which provides local mental health care, third sector organisations for weight management services and even Specsavers.

All of the services that we commission, no matter who provides them, are NHS services, free at the point of access for patients – and are all provided under an NHS standard contract.

Our primary aim is to make sure that patients in Coastal West Sussex are receiving the best care, from the right health professional, in the right place, at the time they need it.

You can find out more about the CCG and our work on our website – www.coastalwestsussexccg.nhs.uk and over the coming months we will be organising events for patients and members of the public to come and speak to us, share your experiences of local healthcare, and find out more about the work we are doing.

Dr Katie Armstrong

Clinical chief officer, NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG

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