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Making a difference

When Healthwatch Camden does research on people’s experiences, we want it to be used to make a difference. We sent our report Acccess to GP services for people with communication support needs to local GPs, to Camden CCG, to the LMC (the Local Medical Committee (a body that represents local GPs) and to NHS England. We also know that for people who give their views or share their experience, it is important to get feedback on what has happened as a result. So we held a feedback session where service users and service providers and commissioners could get together to discuss the report.

The event opened with a role play from members of SURGE, who helped us with the section of our report about communication needs of people with learning disabilities. They vividly showed the challenges caused by automated phone systems or by letters in long word words and jargon.

Andrew Greig, from the Deaf community in Camden said, “The importance of deaf awareness is to build up confidence in deaf people accessing GPs, pharmacies, hospitals and so on.  To have effective service provided to us at a professional level, you need to understand our communication support needs, our specific needs.”

Rosemary Nicholson from Visually Impaired in Camden said: “We are very grateful to Healthwatch Camden, firstly for listening to the issues people have raised, running with them and undertaking the research and producing the report and thirdly for the feedback meeting.”

Ian Porter on behalf of the CCG said that the report “exemplifies the challenges that members of our community face in terms of their experience with the health sector and...has very much raised the profile of these issues.” He went on to say that the report “has been really helpful and timely for us in terms of progressing our work”.

Greg Cairns from the Local Medical Committee (LMC) said: “We want to work with Healthwatch to ensure that GPs and GP practices in Camden get it right.”  He added that “Some of the things we talked about today are about behaviour…..  It is about talking to people, communicating in a respectful, sensitive way.”

Greg also spoke about immense pressure GPs work under and said that the NHS needs to invest more in the sort of technology that will help GPs to do the sort of good job they want to do. His colleague (who works as a GP in Camden) said that she thought that GPs and the CCG in Camden need to “get ourselves together, think about practices in Camden as a whole and think what the quick wins are, some things are going to take a bit of time to sort out and are more complicated.”

Our report is published in varied formats, including BSL video and easy read.  Several people at the event spoke about the NHS accessible information standard, which all NHS services must follow. Being able to offer communication in different formats is part of this.

We will be meeting Greg and other colleagues from primary care, to follow up on the day.

We’re really pleased with the reception the report has had. We think it shows the value of working in partnership with local community organisations to gather evidence, and of reporting the evidence in a clear, accessible way. 

Let us know your thoughts on it below.