Message from Frances Hasler – Healthwatch Camden, Director

The work of Healthwatch Camden ranges across health and social care, we have to keep our eyes open about issues arising in wide range of services.

We have chosen our priority areas for work, but inevitably, new issues will come up. In particular, new contracts for some big services are being planned or arranged, and we want to make sure that local people get a say in the design of the services being bought and that they have a chance to influence the choice of service provider.

One area being looked at is the NHS 111 and out-of-hours service. Five local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are working together to arrange a better service.

The aim is to link the 111 service (which provides advice on where to go if you need urgent healthcare) to the out-of-hours service, which supplies a GP service during the times that GP surgeries are closed (evening and overnight and weekends). In the new service, people only have to ring one number and only have to explain their situation once.

The five CCGs (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, Islington) have set up a programme board to oversee the work. The five local Healthwatches are represented on the board by the Chair of Healthwatch Enfield, Deborah Fowler.

There is also a patient and public reference group (PPRG) which includes patients from each of the five boroughs, and all five local Healthwatches. Someone from this group will sit on the procurement panel, which will choose the provider (or providers) for the service. The five Healthwatches share the task of attending the group, so that we are always represented, even when the meeting falls on a day one of us can’t make.

We’re focused on making sure that the contract really does reflect the views and experience of the local people in all five boroughs, and that the different needs in each borough are taken into account. (For example, Camden has fewer people who are not registered with a GP than Haringey.)

We’d be really interested in your thoughts about the service. We circulated a summary of the engagement to date in our weekly Information Digest. If you don’t get a regular copy of the Digest, please ask to be added to the mailing list.

This way of sharing work between local Healthwatches is very important in London, as a number of services are organised across borough boundaries. Even though it takes a bit of time to keep in touch, we think it is worthwhile to support each other.

Healthwatch Camden is always focused on what matters to people who live in Camden, but we know that people use services across borough boundaries and we need to take into account the views of everyone who uses services.