What’s happening in patient and public involvement now?
Patrick Vernon, who is the Chair of the National Programme Advisory Group has said “Although, parliament, the health select committee, Care Quality Commission, Monitor and local authority health scrutiny committees are all essential, ultimately local people and communities need to be in the driving seat to call to account any failure of services, or to influence service change and better commissioning. It is not good enough that we still have to rely on whistle blowing from a frustrated professional; the death of a patient in tragic circumstances; or a fly on the wall documentary on maltreatment and abuse before the system to will respond.”
The Joint Health and Well Being Strategy, overseen by a new Board and elected members of the Local Authority Scrutiny Committee, will empower community involvement, and improve health outcomes through immediate service delivery. In Devon, the exemplar for the shadow Health and Well Being Board will be services for Children with Additional Needs, overseeing the development of new processes surrounding the commissioning, provision and scrutiny of these services, recently put out to tender. Currently managed by NHS Devon, Integrated Children’s Services are a range of health, social care and education services for children and families which aim to make services as seamless as possible for those needing to access them. Services range from the universal (for example health visiting and school nursing) to highly specialised (for example services for children with disability). Allen Bowen, the Chair of LINk Devon will sit on the shadow board, and a representative from Devon’s Joint Engagement Board.
By paying regard to the wider determinants of health,the Board will have also have a role in promoting and supporting the role of individuals and groups in shared decision making processes at all levels where health outcomes are a concern. Local Healthwatch organisations will be supported by a new national body called Healthwatch England which comes into being in October 2012.
The current purpose of the LINk in Devon is to enable community groups, organisations and individuals to participate in a network. Participants all over England are committed to widening the influence of patients, users of social care and the public in the planning of local care services. Locally, by promoting and supporting involvement, LINk Devon can encourage statutory, private and voluntary services to operate a culture of meaningful participation at all levels. This is with a view to improving services which are increasingly safe, timely, and appropriate, ensuring people get the services they need, and reducing waste at a time when public resources are operating in a period of austerity.
There are many ways to get involved in service planning. You may wish to:
- · submit an idea to the Peninsula Clinical Research in Healthcare Centre via their website.
- · raise a practical issue e.g. to do with opening times of pharmacies in your area
- · research your condition and discuss self management of your condition on a more equal basis with your GP
- · join the Patient Reference Group at your GP surgery
- · engage with the Foundation Trust which operates hospital care in your area
- · feed back about your service via the NHS Choices website, which is Europe’s most widely used health website
- · have a personal budget and choose qualified services to suit your treatment plan
- · access your patient records (some areas in Devon are already looking at how portable patient records, communications and assistive technology can be used to benefit patients, particularly those with long term conditions who use a range of qualified service providers)
LINk Devon can help you find your way round the system but it’s up to all of us to make the most of Healthwatch in the future!