Chat from the Chair
Welcome to the first update from the Healthwatch City of London board.
I am delighted to be able to write to you as I begin in my role as Chair of the new and re-invigorated Healthwatch City of London board, made up of people who live and work here.
In conjunction with the team at Healthwatch Hackney who manages the contract on behalf of the City of London, we will be shaping the work of your local Healthwatch to make sure it not only fulfils our statutory functions but also responds to the needs and concerns of our local community.
The City is unique in that most of the health and social care services we receive are delivered from organisations outside the City; it can seem that we have a limited voice and influence. However, we are not unique when it comes to what we need. We have the same needs as neighbouring boroughs but in microcosm. We are a diverse group of people: the young, the elderly, those with physical and mental illnesses as well as physical disabilities.
As a board we want to make sure we exert the maximum influence we can on the development and delivery of services. Working with the team at the City of London, local providers of health and social care and other local Healthwatch teams, we are aiming to make a real difference.
There is no end of things to do. There’s the big picture: the NHS Long Term Plan, the City of London Plan, development of new Neighbourhoods and integrated commissioning in the East London Health and Care Partnership. These big topics can feel confusing and remote unless you are on the receiving end. Then there is the very real impact of the new of the City Carers’ Strategy and the responsiveness of our local GPs, hospitals and community services. There’s a lot to do!
Over the coming months we will put our efforts into finding out what you want from your Healthwatch; understanding your priorities and concerns so that we can make sure, where possible, we can influence decision makers for the better.
Like all local Healthwatch, we are dependent on an army of volunteers to help us, there is just too much to do with the limited resources we all have. That means encouraging members of our local community to get involved, even if it’s for an hour a week.
Volunteering is the cornerstone of our work; we are asking you to get involved in any way you feel able: that could be working on large scale projects, attending a regular meeting or feeding back on your own experiences. Everything you do can make a difference.
As a start, we have developed a programme of appointing associate board members with special interests. Focusing on a specific area they are passionate about, associate board members will develop expertise, insight and local networks that will enable the team at Healthwatch to cover more ground and exert more influence.
Our first associate board members, with a special interest in local GPs and primary care, have just started and I hope you will hear back from them very soon. I know they will want to hear from you.
Next week a couple of our members will be tasting food at Barts as part of a regular review of the environment in hospitals. Time is precious, so we want to make the most of yours. If you are interested in joining us, please do get in touch. The more of us there are the more we can achieve; making sure we have the services the whole of our community deserves.
Gail Beer, Chair
Healthwatch City of London