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Message from Frances Hasler - Healthwatch Camden Director

Your Voice Counts

We’ve been analysing what people said in our “Your Voice Counts” survey at community events over the summer. We asked about different aspects of the NHS Long Term Plan.

We found that two topics were dominating people’s concerns: mental health services for young people and the plans for ‘digital first’ primary care services. 

So we explored these themes in more detail at our community forum on 8 October, and we’ll be launching projects on both topics over the winter.

Transport

We don’t just find out what matters to people via surveys. We hear about what is not going well from people who contact us. One topic that is causing problems for some is patient transport. We’ve heard about disabled people facing barriers in getting transport to hospital. And we’ve heard about some long journeys to get to hospital on public transport, as services become more centralised.

We’ll be checking with the hospitals about what they are doing to help people who face difficulties with transport.

It is not only in Camden that patient transport is causing concerns, this has been raised with many local Healthwatch across England. So we were very pleased that the Chief Executive of NHS England came to the national Healthwatch conference on 2 October and told us that NHS England is launching a review of transport to health services.

He shared his own concern about the lack of public transport in many areas and the stress and high cost of finding parking at some hospitals, a problem that has affected his own parents.

We’ve been in touch with Healthwatch colleagues in Islington and Barnet, they, too, are concerned about the local patient transport service. Working together makes us stronger – we know that it is a widespread issue not just something that has gone wrong for a small number of people.

Commissioning changes

One topic that never goes away is service integration, and local health and social care commissioners are busy shaping the latest plans for this. Part of the plan is that the five Clinical Commissioning Groups in North Central London will merge into one body.

Healthwatch Camden has been calling for patient and resident involvement to remain borough-based, so that people can have a say close to where they live. We work closely with our colleagues from the other four boroughs (Barnet, Enfield, Haringey and Islington) but our focus is always on Camden. 

An NHS for all

Healthwatch Camden is part of the national Healthwatch network and we always enjoy getting together with other local Healthwatch to swap ideas. One topic at the last London network meeting was Healthwatch Redbridge’s work on access to healthcare for vulnerable migrants . Healthwatch is a non-political organisation but we can draw attention to the impact of national policies when they affect the health needs of people in our community.

We are in uncertain times nationally, so that the many EU nationals who make Camden their home or who work in our local NHS are uncertain about their future rights here. Camden’s vibrant, diverse character comes from the wide range of people who have chosen to make their home here.

Some have come to study or work, some have come as refugees or asylum-seekers. The NHS belongs to us all and part of Healthwatch Camden’s role is helping make sure it is accessible to everyone who is entitled to use it. 

Let us know your thought below.

For example, have you had problems with transport to hospital recently?

Every voice counts.