Report of Gateshead Healthwatch
Steph Edeusi, Chief Executive, provided an update to the OSC on the progress achieved since last year and the priorities set for Healthwatch Gateshead in 2018/19.
The OSC was informed that the Joint Healthwatch Gateshead and Healthwatch Newcastle conference was repeated in April and went well. The focus of the event was the work of both Healthwatch as well as the creation of an engagement plan/resource for Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which would focus on engaging with service users with learning disabilities, their relatives and carers.
Healthwatch Gateshead also developed a short list of potential priorities for future engagement which was informed by comments, concerns and points of view gathered from residents during 2017-18 as well as input from local health and social care officers and organisations. The list was consulted on publicly and the Committee then established the key 2018-19 priorities as:-
· Lack of funding for social care
· Mental Health (joint with Healthwatch Newcastle)
Additional priorities for engagement for 2018-19 were also identified as:-
· Young People
· The West of Gateshead borough
In progressing work around the lack of funding for social care, Healthwatch Gateshead developed a survey for Gateshead residents to support them to participate in the consultation on the LGA Green paper on social care. This was submitted to Gateshead Council so elements could be incorporated into their response to the consultation and the full Healthwatch Gateshead report was also attached as an appendix to the response to the LGA.
The OSC noted that the final design of the project was still to be agreed but was likely to include a survey with service users to establish what, if any changes, they had seen since the last round of changes under the Council’s budget. Healthwatch Gateshead also plan to hold a consultation event on this year’s budget proposals to mirror work they did a few years ago.
The project will be complete by the end of the financial year and a report would be submitted to the OSC.
In relation to engagement work around mental health, Healthwatch Gateshead will focus on people who were not fully involved in the Deciding Together and Expanding Minds, Improving Lives engagement process and the following groups have therefore been prioritised for engagement work:-
· Lesbian and transgender communities
· Black African and Afro-Caribbean communities
· Homeless people
· Students (particularly overseas students)
· People on Universal Credit
Forward Assist, a veterans’ organisation, Gateshead Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and Fulfilling Lives have subsequently been commissioned by Healthwatch Gateshead to undertake engagement with male and female veterans, people on Universal Credit and people who are homeless respectively.
A survey of the lesbian and transgender communities is also being undertaken and a Northumbria University student is working with Healthwatch Gateshead on placement to supervise the work focussing on students.
This project will also share its work with the OSC following publication of its report in March 2019.
The OSC was informed that Victoria Clarke, Volunteer and Outreach Co-ordinator was leading the programme of engagement, supported by a core group of volunteers, and is tracking all engagement activity by type and location to ensure a representative spread across the borough. Healthwatch Gateshead will shortly be recruiting for volunteers to help expand this work.
The OSC noted that one of the engagement priorities for 2018-19 was the west and asked for further information on this.
The OSC was advised that Healthwatch Gateshead was not managing to progress engagement work in the west of the borough as much as they would like and would appreciate any help the OSC was able to provide in relation to this.
The OSC advised that the ward councillors from the west of the borough would be happy to assist and Steph stated that she would arrange for Victoria to get in touch with them.
As a result of Victoria’s work with the Roma community, Gateshead CAB have been able to engage with the community to ensure that they are getting access to the benefits they are entitled to.
The OSC was also informed of the current position in relation to last year’s projects and noted that Healthwatch Gateshead is still waiting to discuss its report on NHS Continuing Healthcare with Newcastle Gateshead CCG but hope that this will take place within the next month. Healthwatch Gateshead also understands that the Council and CCG have recommissioned Carers’ support services and are awaiting an update to see what elements have been incorporated into the new support available.
The OSC was also updated on a number of organisational / staffing changes.
The OSC queried whether, in light of all the recent changes,Steph was confident that Healthwatch Gateshead was able to maintain a position of stability.
Steph advised that some of the staffing changes had been planned and whilst they were recruiting for a new Operations Manager for Healthwatch Gateshead she would be splitting her time between Newcastle and Gateshead. In addition, Steph stated that she has a good core team which has the ability to move between Newcastle and Gateshead to ensure appropriate staffing support as needed.
The OSC indicated that it would be interested to see the information Healthwatch Gateshead had submitted regarding the LGA Green paper and it was agreed that this would be circulated to the OSC for information.
The OSC also queried the focus on lesbian and transgender communities and whether the gay and bi-sexual communities had been fully engaged in previous consultations.
The OSC was informed that consultations had been open to all the LGBT community but there was now a particular focus on the lesbian and transgender communities as they were less engaged in previous consultations.
The OSC queried how the views of the LGBT community had been sought previously and was advised that this work had been done via the CCG.
RESOLVED - i) That the information be noted.
ii) That the OSC receive a further report on Healthwatch Gateshead’s progress at its March 2019 meeting.