From the 1 April 2020, the six (Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark) Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in South East London (SEL), all merged to form a new CCG at the regional level (https://selondonccg.nhs.uk/). This joint CCG is called South East London Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG). The CCG covers all south east London and is responsible for planning and buying our healthcare services and making sure that we have good provision of care.
The six local Healthwatch across south east London (Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark) are the independent enablers and champions of the public voice in health and care services in their respective boroughs. To ensure the visibility and voice for local people in the new CCG, local Healthwatch created the role of a regional Director. This new role is a dedicated resource at the regional level that allows each local Healthwatch to maintain a local focus on delivery. Funding for the post is from the CCG and hosted independently by Healthwatch Greenwich.
As Director South East London Healthwatch, I work together with the six local Healthwatch Chief Officers to effectively represent the independent perspective of all six local Healthwatch at the CCG. I do this through attendance and representation at key meetings. In doing so, I can promote the public’s voice in the range of decisions that are made by the CCG.
Influence and Impact
Preparation for CCG meetings means that I review all meeting papers, contact the Healthwatch Chief Officers’, draw agenda items to their attention and get an understanding of local perspectives. I then have the information I need to ask questions, challenge presenters, and share community insight gathered from SEL Healthwatch intelligence. I attend a growing number of CCG meetings. See a list of key CCG meetings I attended between April and September in the report.
My active participation at the regional level is ensuring that the experiences of people, gathered by SEL Healthwatch, is heard. Examples of this include questions that I have asked about:
- the need for more access to mental health services,
- mergers of GP practices,
- continuing inequalities in GP access in particular digital access,
- what the processes to support complaints during the pandemic is.
Examples of where intelligence from SEL Healthwatch has contributed to include:
- Evidence gathering for the SEL Maternity Deep Dive (Healthwatch Bromley and Healthwatch Greenwich)
- CCG’s draft questionnaire for people who attend urgent and emergency care centres who are not registered with a SEL GP practice
- Covid-19 Preventing Mental-ill Health Taskforce
- Covid-19 Experiences (Healthwatch Greenwich, Healthwatch Lewisham and Healthwatch Southwark)
- Understanding by the CCG on misinformation circulating amongst BAME communities about vaccinations.
- Development of the Engagement Assurance Committee Terms of Reference
- Development of the CCG Principles of Engagement. The CCG will use the Principles of Engagement in all their digital and non-digital approaches to engagement activity.
I was a strong advocate for improving the public’s access to Governing Body meetings. The CCG acted upon this and now stream the Governing Body and Primary Care Commissioning
Committee meetings live, allowing people to do more than just read minutes. Live streaming is the format that Borough Board Meetings across SEL now use. Before this development, the plan was to limit public involvement to questions received before meetings and the publication of minutes after governing body meetings.
Healthwatch Patient Group
Knowing the benefits that the voice of local people brings to Healthwatch conversations, I believe that including patient voices at the regional level could produce focused input and create added value through a regional lens. A new SEL Healthwatch Patient Group will add value to patients’, public and carer perspective in the development of CCG and Integrated Care System (ICS) programmes. It will complement rather than duplicate the challenge and scrutiny functions of local Healthwatch.
Each local Healthwatch will recruit members from their networks and boroughs to be members of the Group. The Group will receive briefings from the Director SELHW about regional health issues or commissioning that need a public and patient overview. If you want more information on the SEL Healthwatch Patient Group, please contact your local Healthwatch team.