Category Archives: Healthwatch

My Review on Healthwatch Southwark – 1 Year on event

coverI thought this time I would do a post on an healthwatch event. Now I have done some posts about healthwatch before, sometimes Healthwatch Lewisham and other times Lambeth, but this time I was over in the London borough of Southwark for the Healthwatch Southwark event – One Year on.


Before I continue on how the event went, what is healthwatch Southwark all about? Well basically taken from their site – Healthwatch gives people a POWERFUL voice locally and nationally on matters concerning health services. At a local level, local Healthwatch will work to help local people get the best out of their local health and social care services. Whether it’s improving them today or helping to shape them for tomorrow.


Now there are healthwatches across different boroughs of London and the UK, all giving people the chance to form an opinion of the health services. Healthwatch does more than just listen and engage, they also do enter and view of health services and produce many reports. So the thing is what has Healthwatch Southwark been up to over the year they have been in action?

Well on the 22nd of November, I took a trip over to Pembroke House over in Southwark and was greeted friendly by the healthwatch staff and a staff member of “Community Action Southwark”. As a reminder, the Healthwatches are heavily volunteer focused and depend on involvement by the community, especially by those who have a passion for improving or championing the health service in the UK.


When I entered the premises, I was glad to see quite a few stalls on display, although one of my main interest was the stall about mental health awareness and engagement. I took the opportunity to visit the CoolTan Wellbeing stall. CoolTan Arts exists to inspire and transform peoples lives though creativity and self-advocacy. The stall advertised the up and coming CoolTan Coolwalks, which I have been on several times. The stall also had booklets and information about mental health and a video about different periods the coolwalks focused on.


20141122_132222The next stall I visited was a stall promoting sexual health research and awareness, which is one of Southwark Healthwatch’s main area on raising awareness about sexual Health. I spoke to the stall holder about her research and its main aim is to have people from the area of Lambeth & Southwark from aged 16-30 be part of an innovative sexual health study, where people can look to getting a sexual health check and tell them what they think about the service. Getting tested on sexual health is very important for many reasons.

Soon I spoke to the stall holders of the Southwark & Lambeth Integrated care where Health and social care organisations and people in Southwark and Lambeth have come together so that local people can lead healthier and happier lives. I was impressed by their display and the stall holders explained some important reasons for building a community along the lines of better healthcare. They want people to at least

– Feel they are a part of the community
– Have systems in place so they can avoid having a crisis at a later stage
– Live independently
– For carers to live the life they want to the best of their ability.
– and lots more


Another stall I visited was the Southwark CCG stall, where they had lots of interesting information on what Southwark Doctors have been doing to improve healthcare for the borough. The CCG stands for Clinical Commissioning Group, which basically means a membership organisation of all the GP surgeries in a borough who help organise the delivery of NHS services. One of the main focus of the CCG is of the commissioning of services hence where should the money be allocated to on providers of health services.


My main interest was the Southwark CCG summary annual report for 2013-14. I also picked up and took away people’s health information is used in the borough of southwark. I urge those interested in their health and health services to read up on such information when they can.

I also noticed stalls doing free health checks, free eye check examinations and I was also given a free health goodie bag. I guess Xmas has come early for me.


After having some tasty lunch, which was provided free of charge by Healthwatch Southwark. We then went upstairs for the main event. The event was to hear what has healthwatch Southwark been up to? It was time to hear their story.

First to speak was Southwark Healthwatch Chair David Cooper. David spoke on the following being how much work and effort HW Southwark has been doing, The new NHS 5 year plan in south london, how financially difficult it has been for the health services and the importance of Healthwatch Southwark.


David then moved on to the agenda of today’s speakers, which I was keen to hear from.


We were then introduced to the new Healthwatch Southwark Manager Aarti Gandesha, now Aarti spoke about more about Healthwatch Southwark’s aims as you can see from the picture. She also talked about how people can get involved with healthwatch and there are many ways to get involved if you are passionate about your health services.

Aarti then talked about what HW Southwark has been up to so far and many of their engagements have been on the community focus groups involving different members of Southwark’s communities. Healthwatch Southwark have also held many public forum events and community events. Plus HW Southwark have been busy collecting stories for their joint ‘1000 lives’ project.

The Healthwatch Manager then moved on to explain what Healthwatch priorities are for Southwark and there are 4 being

1. Access to GP Services
2. Access to Mental Health Services (my main area of interest)
3. Sexual Health Services
4. Social care Services


Next Aarti talked about Healthwatch Southwark’s archievements during the past year where they have

– Engaged with a large number of people over group sessions
– Established 4 priority areas
– have 676 supporters
– received 194 info and signposting queries
– and more

After Aarti’s presentation and talk, we then got to hear a story from a carer in the borough of Southwark. The story resonated similar themes that I go through as a carer e.g. the worry of services being closed down, being able to relate to others, the hope that things will get better and having to provide advice for others.

We then got to hear a talk and presentation from Southwark CCG Director Paul Jenkins. Now Paul’s talk was on the current & Future Opportunities for locality and neighbourhood working. Paul talked about understanding Southwark’s population and health needs (shown as a tree in picture).


Plus Paul talked about the direction of travel when people needed to access health services in Southwark. The aim was to look into providing GP practices that will work closer together in the borough, plus providing a wider range of hospital care closer to patients homes. The thing I noticed from Paul’s talk is that services will need to work together since there will be many challenges.

We were shown the different neighbourhood groups of practices and their reach into the community. Plus the explanation of the direction of travel where many schemes and projects will be set with the aim of GPs working together

The last speaker was Kerry Crichlow who is Southwark Councils director of strategy and commissioning. Her talk was about health and social care commissioning and the integration in the borough of Southwark.


Kerry gave a quick run down on the big issues about commissioning. Those being an ageing population and responding to financial challenges, plus health inequalities. Next Kerry moved onto opportunities where a strategy developed to aid the patient’s journey through their experiences in health. Plus building a stronger framework on prevention and inclusion. Kerry spoke more about the opportunities to shape provisioning around people and maximising integration of health services.

After the presentations, the public and patients who attended got to ask some quick questions, I won’t go into the answers, but some questions were based on

What can be of assistance for those who have physical disabilities or those who have hearing impairment?
What can bridge the divide in health equalities in the borough of Southwark?
How can personalisation help those who have had bad experiences health assessment?


The next and last stage of the event was people to seperate into groups and provide HW Southwark and their facilitators opinions on the following

1 – Service Changes
2 – HW Priorities
3 – Involvement in HW Southwark

The one I chose was the “Involvement” table on how can Healthwatch get more people to volunteer. Each person on our table talked about their role and connections and we also talked about who do each of us talk to when we experience good or bad things in health service. Usually it would be our friends, family or specific groups. For me I tend to speak about my experiences at a carer’s group.


We also discussed the importance of social media, which is one of my area of expertise and also the purpose of volunteering since some would like to volunteer, but are not sure how much work it would involve.

After feedback from each table. David then thanked all for attending. I was particularly glad I attended the event and was allowed to even blog the event. What I got most off this event is learning more about Southwark’s Health and social care setting, learning even more about Healthwatch, networking as I got access to sit on more groups and also giving my opinions.

Thanks for reading my blog post of this event.

Review on Healthwatch Southwark “Social Care” Event

Welcome to another blog post from my carers blog site. As usual I sometimes check out events to do with Mental Health, wellbeing events and carer’s events. I do not mind feeding back what I have picked up from these events. So on the Tuesday 22nd July over at Cambridge House in the London Borough of Southwark.

I decided to check out Southwark Healthwatch event on ” What’s happening in Social Care in Southwark – now and in the future?”.


The event lasted from 4:00 pm till 6:30 pm and there was lots on offer, plus plenty of time to contribute and get our views across. Before I continue, you may wonder what on earth is Healthwatch all about?

Healthwatch helps to give people a powerful voice locally and nationally. At a local level, local Healthwatch will work to help local people get the best out of their local health and social care services. Whether it’s improving them today or helping to shape them for tomorrow.

Healthwatch is the independent consumer champion created to gather and represent the views of the public. Healthwatch plays a critical role at both national and local level and will make sure that the views of the public and people who use services are taken into account.

Each borough across the UK has its own Healthwatch and not all Healthwatches have the same problems or work the same way, but their main focus is getting the people’s views via the right channels and helping sign post people to the correct health organisations. Healthwatch also a lot more than what I have mentioned, but please check out Healthwatch Southwark‘s site when you have time.

So going back to the event on “Social Care in Southwark”, what was in store?

Social Care Event

Luckily we were told the agenda before the event, plus copies of the agenda were placed nearly on the tables. I must admit, even though I could not get any shots of people in the audience. The event was well attended, I think around 60 to 70 people came to the event. Quite a few of them being active members for their organisation. Here is a list of representations at the event.  I have also taken the time to add a link of each organisations site.

Community Action Southwark – Umbrella group for voluntary sector groups in the borough.
Healthwatch Southwark – Here to make sure your views on local health and social care services are heard.
Local residents – Residents of Southwark who attended the event.
Metropolitan – Might be reps from the police.
Lambeth and Southwark MIND –  Independent charity run by people who have personal experience of using mental health services.
Anchor –  Provide a range of housing support for older residents in Southwark and beyond.
Blackfriars Settlement – Multi-faceted educational charity operating in North Southwark
SLaM – South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
Southwark Council – Council to Southwark Residents
Cambridge House – provide both a Law Centre offers confidential advice, assistance and representation.
Southwark Carers –  provides information, advice and support to Carers across the borough.
Cooltan Arts –  mental health and arts charity that believes mental well-being is enhanced by the power of creativity.
Southwark Irish Pensioners Project – Provide a lifeline to hundreds of elderly, vulnerable and isolated Irish people in Southwark
Southwark Deaf Group – Support for Deaf People around most daily living issues.
Latin American Disabled People’s Project – Run by and for disabled Spanish and Portuguese speaking people living in London.
Eritrean Orthodox Church and Community Centre – Eritrean Orthodox Christian Community Church.
Latin American UK forum – Helps support Latin American’s living in the UK.
Southwark Disablement Association – SDA is an organisation of people with seen and unseen disabilities which supports disabled people
Latin American Womens Rights Service – supports Latin American women in the UK
Anjel 2000 – Supports Organisations and Individuals in the Health and Social Care Sector.

If I jump into the agenda of the event. We had the David Cooper who is the Chair of Healthwatch Southwark open the event.

David Cooper

Next was the Manager of Healthwatch Southwark “Alvin Kinch” explain more about what Healthwatch Southwark is all about.

Alvin Kinch

After that, we have the director of social care “Alexandra Laidler” present to us about the challenges and developments of social care services in the borough of Southwark.

Alexandra Laidler

Once the speakers were finished, we then moved onto a quick question and answer session, which was followed by group discussions on a scenario and then each table fed back to the audience on their findings.

After the findings, we then were treated to a free dinner, which was very healthy.

So what I ll do is give a quick break down or pointers from the event.

First David Strong presented on the projects Healthwatch Southwark are doing and what they have been up to during the past 6 months. David also mentioned that while Healthwatch southwark are so busy working on the 4 targets for the people in southwark, these being the following

Access to GP services
Access to Mental Health services
Sexual Health Services, specifically HIV
Social Care


So the last part mentioned being social care was Healthwatch Southwarks aim to get our views and collate them into a report.

David Asked an important question “What happens when individuals do not meet the means-tested threshold to receive care and support”?

How can they pay for social care?

We then had Alvin explain a bit more about what Healthwatch Southwark is about. She went through the following being.


– How Healthwatch listens to people’s voices on matters of health services.
– How Healthwatch Southwark sets up focus groups, which they have been doing throughout the year.
– How Healthwatch visits services.
– They then produce a report on what they find.
– They also visit older people’s services.
– Plus when people contact Healthwatch, Healthwatch southwark can advise or signpost.
– Healthwatch Southwark does “Enter & View” training, but I think also many other healthwatches do this.

During the event, there was a mention of the New care act 2014, which I hope to cover one day.

Next up was Alex Laidler who is the Director of Adult Social Care at Southwark Council. She spoke about how cuts presents a difficult problem for social care services in the London Borough of Southwark. Alex also mentioned more on “The Care Act” and “The Children and families Act”.


Alex spoke on how cuts will drive services to integrate with each other. This is where Southwark Council seeks to develop its Health & Wellbeing Strategy.

Southwark’s Health & Wellbeing Board have set up three priorities in order to deliver better health and care outcomes for the residents of Southwark, which are

– Giving every young person the best start in life
– Building healthier communities
– Improving the experiences of the most vulnerable residents and enabling them to live more independent lives.

Alex moved on to talk about how Southwark council and Southwark’s CCG strategic approach to integration. One of the points raised were how Southwark Council and the CCG have agreed their “Better Care Fund” where £22 million will fund schemes to support people to live at home and avoid hospital and A&E care.

The director of social care for Southwark then highlighted Southwark Council’s Social Care Priorities. I ll point out two being

– Develop diverse, innovative and adaptable health and social care
– Personalised health and social care services that are able to follow a resident through their lifetime.

Alex then talked about Southwark councils objectives for

Older people when it comes to social care.
Mental Health in the social Care setting
objectives for Learning disabilities & Autism.
And also Carers.

I ll point out a few of the objectives mentioned for carers

– Improving information and advice for carers
– Developing an outreach programme to reach carers at an early stage
– Young carers programme to offer support for young carers
– Expanding the provision of personal budgets for carers
– and many more points presented at the event

After Alex’s presentation, we heard quite a few good questions from the audience and representatives.

One question was about how difficult it is to know about personal budgets or even how to get a personal budget if suffering mental health problems.

Another was on how more awareness is needed for the Deaf community, plus the lack of interpreters.

A good question from the reps was on the financial situation of carers in Southwark.

After the Q&A session, there were the “Round the table” discussion. Each of the 7 tables where given around I think up to 3 scenarios focusing on Social Care problems, which we then fed back at the end. I found the discussions quite informative and education, since I admit I do not know much about social care problems.

Here were the points that were fed back at the end of the discussions from each table.

– There can be a problem when it comes to understanding what the person wants regarding social care, a lot can be down to the assessment criteria.
– The council should support and develop deaf people on some services.
– There is far too short time on discharge plans for Mental health users
– People need more control of social care services, there needs to be more choice.
– Social care assessments should be integrated
– carers needs support especially when the caree does not make their own support needs known.
– Discharge plans can and do often go wrong

After the lengthy discussions and feedback session, attendees were treated to a light meal, which I very much appreciated.

So how did I find the Healthwatch Southwark event?

* I felt the information presented at the event was relevant to its issues, but we will have to see how the health services act on the queries and questions.

* I was giving the opportunity to participate and even had the chance to feedback and share my experiences, this is critical to any focus group or event. Such events should be inclusive.

* The event made me understand the importance of giving my views on local health and social care services, if you do not give your views on health services, then its difficult for organisations to measure their effectiveness. Plus being able to give your views on health experiences is empowering, since I am sure that in the past, people were ignored, especially the most vulnerable people in the community.

* I felt my knowledge of Healthwatch has increased and I hope your knowledge about Healthwatch Southwark has increased as well.

* The knowledge of the speakers were very good, although I would have liked just a few more speakers, but I could understand the lack of time allocated at the event.

* The venue being Cambridge House was excellent and I certainly enjoyed the healthy food that was served.


At the end of the event, we congratulated Alvin Kinch on how much she has contributed to Healthwatch and LiNK, she now has moved to a new role with Healthwatch England and I hope Alvin will continue to contributed much more to engaging people’s views on health services.

Well Done Alvin

As a carer I felt it was important to attend Healthwatch events not only to get my voice heard or spread knowledge of the event, but also listen to other people affected by the health services. They have very important things to say and Healthwatch is there to collate their views.

Mental health scheme to help Lewisham’s pupils ‘before they fall’

A new mental health project will help school pupils in London to deal with their problems and worries after receiving a £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s £75m HeadStart programme.

The development funding means that pupils in Lewisham will take part in a pilot project in the new school year. The local partnership will use this pilot to work up long term plans that could benefit from a multi-million pound share of HeadStart funding.

 A previous YouGov survey for the Big Lottery Fundrevealed that 45 per cent of children aged 10-14 have reported being unable to sleep because of stress or worry, with fifty nine per cent saying they feel worried or sad at least once a week. However, only around 25 per cent of young people needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it and usually only once they reach 18[1].

The HeadStart programme aims to develop ways of dealing with mental health issues before they become deep-rooted problems. Focussing primarily on schools, the HeadStart partners will offer a range of approaches, including peer mentoring, mental health ‘first aid’ training, online portals and special resilience lessons helping pupils aged 10-14 feel they have support at in the classroom as well as at home and tackling the stigma that can often surround the issues of mental health.

Lyn Cole, Deputy England Director of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “We know that around three young people in every classroom suffer from a clinically diagnosable mental health disorder and this is a desperately sad situation. HeadStart is all about catching our young people before they fall into a trap of mental and emotional turmoil that may affect them all though their lives. This development funding means that children in Lewisham will play an important role in helping other young people get emotional support at a key stage in their lives.”

Councillor Paul Maslin, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Lewisham Council, said: “We are very excited to be part of this pilot project. Making the journey from teenager to adulthood is an important stage in young people’s lives and some will find it easier than others. So it’s important that where we can, we build mental and emotional resilience in those young people who may find the journey more difficult. I look forward to seeing the results of this project and how the involvement of young people in Lewisham has contributed to this important initiative.”

For more information about HeadStart you can contact Healthwatch Lewisham at or

Then What? Healthwatch Lewisham launches  local inquiry into discharge processes 

At Healthwatch Lewisham they ask people to share their experiences about health and social care services. Currently they are focusing on people’s experiences of leaving hospital or a community care service; they call this the discharge process. They would like to gather feedback from as many people as possible to understand what works and what doesn’t in the discharge process.

If you have an experience that you could tell them about or know or work with someone who does please take a few minutes to complete this important online survey. They can provide paper copies wherever needed.

The survey is anonymous and they will not publish any information to identify you. The combined findings will be shared with managers and commissioners of health and care services in order to improve services in Lewisham. Their findings will contribute towards a national inquiry being run by Healthwatch England who are carrying out a national inquiry into unsafe discharge processes.

If you would prefer to write to them, would like to request a paper copy or prefer to tell your experience over the phone or face-to-face please email or call our office on 0207 998 7796.
In addition to the above survey, Healthwatch Lewisham will be undertaking Enter and View Visits and interviews. They also plan to hold a focus group on the topic. Please contact us if you would like to get involved or can support them in this inquiry. Please share this email and information widely with your contacts. 

The Deadline for completing the survey is Wednesday the 9th of July. 
Click here to go to the survey.
For more information about Healthwatch Lewisham go to their website:

Lewisham Healthwatch & Save Lewisham Campaign Community Health Care Event

On the 28th of June, I attended the Lewisham Healthwatch &  Save Lewisham Campaign “Winning the Best Community Health Care” Event.

Healthwatch Event

This took place at Lessof Auditorium, Lewisham Hospital. The event was mainly for interested parties, where we had representatives from SaveLewishamHospital Campaign, Lewisham Carers, LeSoCo, Voluntary Action Lewisham, Lewisham’s Health & Wellbeing Board, some of the Lewisham’s Councillor’s, Lewisham’s Young Advisors, Lewisham Disability Coalition and many more.

As you can tell from the list above, many groups and organisations attended, but What is Healthwatch?



Healthwatch is the national consumer champion in health and care. They have significant statutory powers to ensure the voice of the consumer is strengthened and heard by those who commission, deliver and regulate health and care services.

You can find more about Lewisham Healthwatch below.

This event was also a joint event with Save Lewisham Campaign

Save Lewisham A&E was set up by local organisations, residents, Dr’s, nurses, therapists and patients because they do not believe the Tory-appointed Trust Special Administrator should jeopardise the health of South Londoners to pay for debts that were caused by years of political mismanagement.

You can find out more about them below.


Going back to the event. On the day we looked into what makes community Health care brilliant, identified healthcare that needs to be cherished to ensure future community health care.

We also learned from people’s stories about community healthcare, which gave us ideas in order to build a vision for what the best community health care could be for Lewisham.

You might have probably already guessed it, but this blog is based in the UK and mentions many UK mental health organisations off my links page. I often try to go to mental health or health community events or meetings and the “Winning the best community Health care” event was the latest.

I think we had around 40 or more turn up to the event to give their ideas about what makes the best community health care.

There are cuts coming to the NHS and these cuts will create many problems, Perhaps no one will receive the quality of health services like they did before. There is a risk that privatization will not hold patients interest at heart, plus the cuts won’t stop at the NHS, it will hit quite a lot of voluntary organisations which already are under pressure from limited funds.

Lewisham Hospital had a campaign to save the A&E, which was a long and hard fight that ended in success, but even still the hospital is under threat.

20140628_130308   20140628_150224

Recently the six Clinical Commissioning Groups which commissions or buys services for the doctors are running their plan for integrated care across south London. There is a lot of planning and consultancy the will be needed.

So how do we tackle such problems?

At the event we needed to define what is community health care. We have to understand that quantitative health care does not make qualitative community health care. Before this event, Lewisham Healthwatch collected over ‘100’ stories from those who used community health care in order to discern the very qualities of health care.

Throughout the day we as a group worked on declaring a vision for the perfect community health care system, we also had several members in the group produce their own ideas about burning issues for enhancing community care, which was followed by a brainstorming session.


So how did I think the event went?

To be honest, before I turned up to the event, I was not sure what to expect, but by the end of the day I could say that there was so much I learnt. I felt empowered giving my views as a carer within such a group, not only because I use carers Lewisham (which is a voluntary community service) but because who I care for also uses a lot of services.

The event also gave me a lot more opportunity not only to participate, but also to have fun in participating, plus to gain further insight into the problems of the National Health Service, which faces its greatest test ever since it was formed.


There is fear of the unknown that if such services are cut. A lot of people are worried the more things are privatized then value for money will be lost, community will be lost and quality of service would be at risk.

Not only is it vitally important Healthwatch runs such events, it is also important that the public give their views on the services they use. They do not have to always complain, the public can just make a statement or congratulate on a service.

I hope Healthwatch continues to do a vitally important role engaging and obtaining views from the community in future for the community.