Healthwatch Camden is working with four other local Healthwatch in North London (from Barnet, Enfield, Haringey and Islington) to make sure that local people get a real say in how services change in the next few years.
NHS organisations and councils across the five boroughs are creating a big plan (called the Sustainability and Transformation Plan) to improve the way services fit together. The aim is to improve support for people at home so that fewer people need to use hospital services.
It includes plans to make it easier for people to get medical help quickly. This part of the plan is called the Urgent and Emergency Care programme. The changes are all designed to make the system better for people to use. They are also designed to keep the NHS within budget.
The Urgent and Emergency Care programme aims to streamline services for people who need to get medical help quickly. Lots of people need help on the day but don’t necessarily need an emergency ambulance or to be treated in an Emergency Department.
At the moment they can go to their GP (if they can get an urgent appointment) or in some boroughs they can go to a Walk In centre or to an Urgent Care Centre, or to a GP Extended Access clinic. All these different sorts of service are confusing. So the NHS wants to make it simpler.
The Urgent and Emergency Care programme aims to provide better support at home for people with longer term needs, for example people living with breathing difficulties (COPD), so that fewer need to go to the Emergency Department.
When people do need to go to the Emergency Department, the aim is to treat them promptly, on the same day, so that they can go home rather than be admitted. And when people do need to be admitted, the aim is to provide better support at home so that they can go home quickly when they are well.
Healthwatch Camden is leading work across the five North London boroughs to involve local people in the plans and to give them a real say. We have already held some focus groups to get people’s ideas for how they would make change (a summary report of the discussions is here) and we’ll be holding more over the year to discuss some of the specific ideas in the programme.
We will be running a ‘co-design’ event, bringing together local people, service providers and service commissioners to test out the ideas.
As part of the programme, we are supporting a Citizen Reference Group, made up of three people from each borough, with an independent chairperson.
The role of the group will be both to advise the Urgent and Emergency Care programme and to hold providers and commissioners to account for how they make the changes, making sure that the input of local people is truly influential.
If you would like to be involved in discussions about urgent and emergency care (or other aspects of service change) please get in touch.