Message from Frances Hasler – Healthwatch Camden Director

We are launching our new five year strategic plan this month. We have existed since 2013 and in that time we have covered many topics.

We highlighted the experience of parents of disabled children. We commented on variation in GP services. We focused on equality, looking at the experience of disabled people and people from BMER communities.

We supported mental health service users to show how service change affects their wellbeing. We’ve kept in touch with the hospital trusts and community health services in the borough. We are active members of the Health and Wellbeing Board, collaborating with public health colleagues to shape Camden’s health and wellbeing strategy. These and many other activities have established us a key organisation in the borough.

For our next five years we want to build on our success.

We need to take account of the current situation, financial pressure on public service is greater than ever, and this has affected our income. Our grant from Camden Council is 20% lower than before, so  we have to find new sources of income in order to maintain our activity. Luckily, we have already had some success in generating new income.

Working in partnership with other local Healthwatch in North London, we have contracted to engage local people in discussions about urgent and emergency care. Building on our work to give a voice to mental health service users, we were contracted to carry out consultation with service users about planned changes at St Pancras Hospital.

In the next five years we plan to develop new partnerships. We already have good relationships with many of Camden’s voluntary and community organisations, and we aim to reach wider, to link to more of them. In addition, Camden plays host to some major national charities concerned with health and social care, and we aim to involve them in what we do.

In everything we do, the starting point is what matters to local people. Our core role is to seek people’s views and experiences of care services and use what you tell us to encourage services to make improvements.

In an era when services are squeezed by rising demand and static or falling income, it is more important than ever that local citizens have a say in how services are organised and delivered. Healthwatch Camden’s strategic plan sets out our ambition to lead strong, influential and inclusive engagement for all Camden’s residents, setting a standard for excellent engagement in the borough.

We want to see real sharing of decision making based on the views of people from every part of Camden’s community. We want to see all services actively using what people tell them, to make big and small improvements.

We hope you will want to be part of it.

Let us know your thoughts below.