Update by Garry Jones, Chief Executive, Support Staffordshire
As promised I attended the Staffordshire Health and Wellbeing Board in May as a member of the public and took the opportunity to ask how the sector can be best understood and involved in the Board’s decision making and work.
The response was mixed and whilst Chair Alan White and supporting officer Paula Furnival assured me that the sector’s voice is being included, the exact means of this remains unclear. The Board approved new terms of reference and added Staffordshire Fire and rescue to the Board, but once again the sector was overlooked for a place. I shall be following up with the Chair and Paula in the next few weeks to try and establish a clearer picture of how VCSE organisations are to be included from the outset as health and care services are fundamentally redesigned.
I was pleased to hear from two Board Members in particular, Cllr Ben Adams and Jan Sensier from Healthwatch. Whilst Jan remains clear that she is not the VCSE sector’s representative (rather Healthwatch have a statutory place to represent patient and public voice), she continues to advocate for a wide consultation of the public and VCSE organisations when the Board and its constituent organisations (councils, NHS bodies) make decisions. When the Board were asked to approve the annual report for the past year and the plan for the year ahead Cllr Adams was vociferous in highlighting the role of the Board in overseeing the integration of health and care services and specifically the integrated working of the CCGs across Staffordshire. Cllr Adams felt that progress on this was missing from the report, Healthwatch agreed and so do I.
This county needs leadership if it is to find its way out of a very complicated and deep financial hole in health… it remains unclear where that leadership is coming from.
And finally Ageing Well, a joint proposal from the county council and the Fire and Rescue Service about making the most of opportunities to identify risks in older people’s homes. When a fireman fits a smoke alarm they also notice a hand rail would be helpful, for example. A great idea, but one the voluntary sector have already been used to and implementing under programmes such as Lets Work Together – unfortunately no longer funded… please talk to us outside of the Board meetings if you can’t talk to us inside!
Remember you can talk to Garry about strategic Health and Wellbeing issues, just contact firstname.lastname@example.org.