We are here to support, promote and develop voluntary and community action in Middlesbrough

Illness, responsibility and style.

The Better Health Programme.

Question: What do old punk rockers do now?

Punk rock and cerebral palsy – the two things that give me (my) style. Confused as to where this is going? Well bear with me. As a young wannabee you would find me down the front at any Clash, Damned or UK Subs gig – I was indestructible just like my mates. I still attend the same gigs with the same mates, but now I am to be seen at a sensible distance from the front where I can appreciate the musical abilities of the band (!!??). I have taken responsibility for my impairment. My mates have helped me to recognise that my balance is so shot that it would be foolish to venture near the mosh-pit as it is now known. Likewise some people need a helping hand to take responsibility for their illness or potential illness and to find out what is going on. This is what I’ve been doing with the Better Health Programme (BHP) over the past few months. The BHP is proposing significant changes to the way services are provided to patients in Teesside, Darlington, County Durham and parts of North Yorkshire. The core strands are that care can be delivered more appropriately out of hospitals and in people’s homes or through community services, patients only admitted to hospital where it is no longer safe or effective for them to be cared for in the community, access to centralised specialist opinion and planned care and discharge from hospitals organised so there is no unnecessary waiting or cancellations. No proposals have been announced as yet, but there is likely to be changes to the services provided at hospitals such as James Cook Hospital, North Tees Hospital and Darlington Memorial Hospital with one or two of them being designated as specialist centres with a reduction in services at the others into the community. These proposed changes will affect people who use NHS services in Middlesbrough and the local NHS are selling the proposals as improving these services, but it is the people who will ultimately be the judge of that. It is therefore really important for us all to know and understand what the changes are and also to have our say. There will be a full blown consultation period over the coming months, so keep an eye out for the events near you, but in the meantime if you want me to come to your group or organisation and give you a stylish presentation with a punk attitude just give me a ring or email me. The punk ethos was about questioning the status quo, finding out things and getting on and doing it for yourself – this can be applied to all sorts of things including illness and changes to hospital services.

Answer: Quite a few work in the Voluntary and Community Sector.

Craig Duerden