A new film from Healthwatch Essex and a report written by Essex County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) have been released highlighting the challenges facing the health sector in Mid and South Essex.
In April Healthwatch Essex and the HOSC hosted an event that brought together health bosses and asked how they would listen to the people of Essex when considering the redesign of services in the county.
Delegates heard from Andy Vowles, Programme Director for the health care improvement programme known as ‘the Essex Success Regime’, that health services in mid and south Essex will be transformed and reconfigured. The proceedings were filmed and have now been edited into a video highlighting the key moments and a report published.
As well as Healthwatch Essex and members of the HOSC, the conference was also attended by representatives from patient engagement groups, health commissioners and providers, and the community and voluntary sector.
Dr Tom Nutt, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Essex, said: “Patients, service users and carers need to be integral to any change. Redesigning the delivery of services should be informed by the lived experience of the people who access those services, and that’s precisely what we look to evidence in the work we do.
“The film also highlights the commitment of the HOSC and others to try to maintain focus on ensuring the patient is central to what we do when implementing these changes and their voice is both heard and acted upon.”
Cllr Jill Reeves, Chairman of the HOSC, said, “It’s evident that change is needed. At the event in April, Andy Vowles set out very clearly that, if nothing were done to change the way services are delivered, the deficit would rise to over £200million by the end of the year 2018/19.
“That obviously can’t be allowed to happen, so we must take this opportunity to deliver something that is not only an improvement on what we have, but that is also consistent in providing the best clinical care possible.”
In particular, delegates stressed that service users must be involved at the beginning of service redesign processes. In addition, there needed to be sufficient time allowed for meaningful engagement prior to formal proposals being finalised.
NHS England was also asked to demonstrate how they will engage early with patient groups, primary care and community and voluntary organisations. The HOSC has requested that NHS England responds to all the recommendations from the event and evidence how it can incorporate them in their planning.
The HOSC report of the event is now available to view on the Essex County Council website at Conference Report, and the film can be viewed via the Healthwatch Essex website at www.healthwatchessex.org.uk/news/.
The NHS England initial response to the recommendations was discussed at a meeting of the HOSC on 29 June 2016 and it has been requested that NHS England provide further detail on how the recommendations will be implemented in practice.