Message from Frances Hasler – Healthwatch Camden, Director

2016 is our third anniversary. We published our third annual report, showing what we have achieved over the three years.  

We’ve been out and about at events in the local community, we’ve gathered your feedback on health and social care services in Camden. We’ve listen to what you think matters and have set our priorities accordingly. Together we can create a better health and social care system for us all.

Highlights in our annual report include:

Our reports on GP services in Camden

We looked at the variations between GP practices, then at the experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic communities in accessing GP services and finally, access to GP services for people with communication support needs (patients with learning disabilities, patients who are visually impaired and patients ho are d/Deaf) Evidence revealed that GPs are doing many things right, but there’s still room for improvement. We also developed a series of videos which tell you more about our reports, and what those who worked with us think about them, you can find out more here.

Our joint initiative with the council’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee  

Here we gathered insight from 300 Bangladeshi people both young and old to find out the problems they experience with accessing health and wellbeing services in Camden. We took note of their feedback and hope that the report will make a difference to tackling health inequality in Camden. 

Our Highgate Centre Project

We’ve flagged mental health as one of our top priorities as people in the community told us that it’s crucial to them. Local people asked us to look at the impact of budget cuts and service redesign. The Highgate Centre is one of the places affected by service changes, that’s why we offered to work with service users at the centre to co-design a research project that will capture their experiences of the service changes, in real time. We’re capturing their feedback as ‘audio diaries’ and we want to see how their experiences evolve over seven months. Find out more in our video.

The launch of our information resource, Start Here…

We’re independent and part of our role is to give out unbiased, useful information on health and social care services. To this end, we launched ‘Start here…’ an online guide to help people learn their rights, find a service and find out about the choices available. We’ve had great feedback about it since its launch in 2015.

The launch of our magazine

We’ve also launched a Healthwatch Camden magazine. Combined with our eNewsletter and News Digest it will give you a good idea of what we’re upto. It’s a bi-annual magazine and we hope that people in the community will find it useful and informative. See it here.  

Completing the annual report required us to check that we were fulfilling all our legal obligations as a local Healthwatch. The report tells you we’ve done to fulfil our remit and how we’ve used our statutory powers. A crucial part of our development as an organisation is that we’ve grown our team. We welcomed Saloni Thakrar to the Healthwatch Camden board, as well as Victoria Armitage as our new Project Officer.

The essential role of Healthwatch England is another crucial part of the whole. Having a national body to raise the important issues really strengthens the local network. Being able to share ideas across the whole network is very helpful.

Finally, we’re moving offices this year. We’re grateful for the support we’ve received form Voluntary Action Camden (VAC) since we started, but the lease is coming to an end. We aim to remain rooted in our local voluntary and community sector wherever we’re based.

So, to end we’d like to thank all those who have supported us over the past year. We look forward to continuing to work with you and our local community.