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How are people’s views influencing health reforms?
The future of health and social care is changing. Across the country reforms are underway to ensure that services provide a good quality and seamless experience for people. The public recognise the pressure that services are under. They understand the need for change, but also want to be involved in deciding what this change will look like and how it will affect their communities.
In January 2018, we surveyed local Healthwatch to find out whether services are successfully involving the public in these plans. The responses highlighted a number of ways health and social care professionals can improve the way they involve people.
The survey also highlighted a number of examples of successful public engagement that is making a difference.
Three ways services are effectively involving the public
1. A little investment goes a long way
‘Grassroots’ an initiative in South-West London engaged over 5,000 people face to face from local communities to find out what they think about changing services. Six Healthwatch across South-West London joined forces with the local voluntary sector to reach out to the community and inform plans for changing services. Each Healthwatch was granted £10,000 to fund local groups and run community events. The events were an opportunity to gather insight into people’s experiences of local health and care services, and to find out what they thought about proposed changes to these services. This has been very effective at reaching everyone in the community and ensuring people’s views inform decision-making.
2. Working together to create resources that work for local people
‘Wessex Voices’ was formed by five local Healthwatch and NHS England Wessex to make sure people in the area are involved in designing the services they use from the beginning. Together, Wessex Voices has used people’s views to create resources, such as guidance for professionals, which better support public engagement in important areas, including cancer services, public health and primary care.
3. Giving patients the same platform as professionals
A Citizens Panel was formed in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw to put local people at the heart of service change. The panel aimed to bring together the public, clinicians, voluntary sector colleagues, commissioners and local authorities, to make practical changes to how the NHS and social care works.
Sharing our views with the Health Select Committee
Using the views from the survey of local Healthwatch, together with our wider work, we have helped to inform the Health Select Committee’s inquiry into whether Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) are working. When involving the public in STPs, we recommended that:
- The public should be included at every tier of changing services, from board-level decisions to informing communications.
- Healthwatch England’s steps to good engagement - which is included in NHS England’s guidance and Five Year Forward View Next Steps – should be followed fully.
- Local Healthwatch, and other partners, should be involved early to support and undertake better public engagement. This work needs to be properly funded.
Find out how health and social care is changing in your area
If you want to have your say on how future services are run locally, speak to your local Healthwatch.