THE new head of the National Health Service has praised a South Tyneside scheme pioneering the use of alternative medicine.
Simon Stevens, appointed as chief executive of NHS England last week, visited the Haven Point leisure complex in South Shields on his first day in his new job.
He met council chiefs and representatives of South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust to find out how they are working together to improve health and social care services.
Mr Stevens, formerly president of a US private healthcare firm, said: “Haven Point is a great example of the way patients, the NHS and local authorities can come together to support people to take control of their own health through an innovative integration scheme.
“I have started today listening to patients, and I give you a commitment that I intend to carry on listening every day I am in the job.”
Mr Stevens also heard how South Tyneside’s health and social care integration plan has been highlighted as a national example after being chosen as one of 14 pioneers from across England.
The aim of the project is for people to manage health conditions more effectively.
Patient Brian Anderton talked to Mr Stevens about the benefits of the project. The 66-year-old, of Hebburn, was diagnosed with a pituitary tumour 16 years ago. He said: “After the initial shock of the diagnosis, I started to think about what I could do to help myself.
“I came across tai chi and was amazed by it. I’ve been able to reduce the amount of medication I was having to take as a result, and the improvements I have seen are phenomenal.”