In what may turn out to be one of its final acts as a publicly funded watchdog for NHS patients in the borough, Healthwatch Croydon has made a call for it to keep a close check on the latest round of reforms, the Sustainability and Transformation Plan, or STP.
Healthwatch Croydon’s funding runs out in three months’ time, its future from April uncertain, another example of the cuts impacting across all aspects of healthcare.
Meanwhile, one of the bodies the watchdog is supposed to keep a check on, the NHS Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group (or CCG), is conducting a review of health services across the borough under STP.
Healthwatch Croydon describes STP as “the biggest change in the history of NHS, with all aspects of healthcare from hospitals and GPs to community and pharmacy services under review”.
Croydon’s STP is part of the wider South West London NHS which will plan services for six south-west London boroughs. Croydon, as the largest borough in the group, has its own part of the plan.
In a report published this week, Healthwatch Croydon says that residents want effective engagement in the STP process, and – in something as unsurprising as turkeys flocking to the polls to not vote for Christmas – they re-state the need for a body to represent residents’ interests in a complex area of public service.
“We have a crucial role to play to ensure this plan is consulted, planned and delivered in response to resident’s needs,” said Jai Jayaraman, Healthwatch’s interim CEO (his predecessor left when it became clear that there would be no guarantee of funding beyond March 2017).
Based on a recent residents’ forum, Healthwatch’s report recommends:
- Responsibility: Residents want to understand who is responsible for leading and delivering different aspects of the plans.
- Measures of success: Residents would like to understand the process of change and the measures being used, particularly around frameworks, quality standards, action plans and timescales.
- Consultation: Residents would like to know who is being consulted and what the timetable for consultation is.
- Role of Croydon Council and councillors: Residents would like to know how Croydon Council and Croydon councillors are involved in the decision-making, and how residents’ can discuss this with them.
- Public access: Residents want to know how those meetings are being advertised, and how their comments will impact decisions.
“A major change to Croydon’s health services is coming and Croydon residents want to be effectively engaged in the process,” Jayaraman said. “Of course, this change is complex, but this only emphasises the need for good, clear information and robust engagement processes to ensure all communities have their voice heard.
“Healthwatch Croydon is committed to impartiality and representing the views of residents. We, therefore, have a crucial role to play to ensure this plan is consulted, planned and delivered in response to resident’s needs. We look forward to strengthening the engagement activity undertaken by NHS Croydon CCG and South West London NHS, and participating effectively together with them to gain the best results for residents.”
Healthwatch Croydon has produced Healthwatch Croydon and the Sustainability and Transformation Plan guidance, with information on what STP is and how it will affect Croydon’s services.
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