Health watchdog publishes views on future of health and social care

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People’s views on plans for how health and social care services might adapt to meet increasing demand and expectation, have been published in a report by the county’s health watchdog Healthwatch Suffolk.

The publication follows a series of 40 public engagement events across east and west Suffolk where the thoughts and ideas of local people were gathered on the Health and Care Review, the collective name given to two reviews, one on health and independence and the other on urgent care.

This public feedback will be used to help shape the future design of more effective joined-up health and social care services, which will enable the delivery of improved services and provide better patient outcomes. The information will also play a role in determining the future commissioning of the NHS 111, out of hours GP and community health services.

The report has been published in collaboration with Suffolk County Council, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCGs).

Annie Topping, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said: “We are pleased to have worked closely with our partners to independently analyse the findings of engagement activities across the county. We found that people recognise the need to better integrate health and care services and that there was support for many of the concepts presented such as the development of urgent care hubs that could encourage patients to use A&E more appropriately. A number of concerns were however evident about a lack of detail regarding the delivery of the new model.

“Healthwatch Suffolk has published a number of papers which have included reported experiences of ambulance services, NHS 111 and GP practices in the county. We will expect the CCGs and Suffolk County Council to take into account the views and comments of the public highlighted in all of our reports and incorporate them into the development of any new service models where appropriate. It will also be essential that any change to the delivery of local services is communicated clearly so that the public can understand what the changes will mean in practice.”

Maddie Baker-Woods, chief operating officer of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, who led the process on behalf of both CCGs, said: “We welcome this report and would like to thank everyone for their time and views. We will be responding formally to the report and be sharing how the feedback will inform service development and our plans for more engagement over the coming months.”

Cllr Alan Murray, cabinet member for health and adult care said: “It is important that we hear what residents think about existing arrangements and what they would like from services in the future - thank you to everyone who has shared their views so far. We are committed to developing services that effectively meet the needs of Suffolk residents. Therefore, we will together continue to engage people as we develop services for the future.”

A copy of the full report can be viewed on the Healthwatch Suffolk website.