Healthwatch North Yorkshire Chair, Chris Brackley, and Chief Executive Officer, Ashley Green set the scene and talked through some of the highlights and challenges of the past year.
These included hearing from 1,000 people, having 26,000 conversations about the impact of COVID-19, producing eight reports and four intelligence briefings. Our work and particularly our reports have prompted improvements in health and dentistry services in North Yorkshire. We also launched a new website and developed our social media presence. You can read more in our annual report.
Volunteers Beverley Callaghan and Linda Wolstenholme talked about their experiences of volunteering. They have helped to map services and engagement across West Yorkshire, Craven and Harrogate, researched the accessibility and usefulness of GP websites, and spoke to North Yorkshire dentists to ask if they were taking on patients - plus much more. Both Beverley and Linda have enjoyed their experience and they encouraged others to get involved to make a difference.
Peter Davenport, CEO of Definition Agency, looked at how we could better use print and social media to spread our message and our panel answered some probing questions about the state of health and care services and what might happen in the future.
Joining Ashley Green and Peter Davenport were:
- Richard Webb, Corporate Director for Health & Adult Services (including Public Health), North Yorkshire County Council
- Steve Russell, Chief Executive, Harrogate & District NHS Foundation Trust
- Andrew Dangerfield, Head of Primary Care Transformation, North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group
Questions included what the impact of COVID-19 has been on services and changes resulting from the pandemic; views on the government’s new plan for social care funding and opinions on the new Integrated Care Systems (ICS) that will replace Clinical Commissioning Groups from April 2022.
Panel members recognised what a difficult time it had been for everyone and how hard health and social care teams and staff members had worked in unprecedented circumstances. They acknowledged that services are still struggling, and staff members are exhausted but that some of the changes in working that resulted from the pandemic will stay and that there need to be different ways of doing things in the future.
All the panel felt that the ICS approach brings new opportunities and could be the chance to change ways of working for the better, but it needed time and space to develop and implement those new ideas.
Everyone recognised that the government has acted on social care, which was overdue. A lot of ongoing challenges were highlighted including stabilising the care market and recognising the skill and professionalism of care staff and the vital role they play which is equal to that of NHS colleagues. There is more work to do.
Overall, the panel was optimistic about the future for health and care seeing many opportunities in the development of the ICS and new integrated ways of working.