In the first of a series of columns, Healthwatch Derbyshire chief executive Karen Ritchie advocates the need for the meaningful consultation with the public about the future of health and social care services in the county. She writes:
The recent publication of the Derbyshire Strategic Transformation Plan (STP) entitled ‘Joined Up Care’ is already causing concern amongst local people and Healthwatch Derbyshire is committed to ensuring that the public have their say on these proposals.
Healthwatch Derbyshire has an independent role with regards to the STP is not to pass judgement on the plan but to ensure that there is a strong voice for local people in this process.
The feedback we have received so far indicates that carers are particularly concerned about what the plan will mean for them.
There is also concern among the wider public that there is currently no information as to how the new models of care will be financed, and concerns that beds will be closed before new services are up and running effectively.
There is a perception that the development of the STP has been ‘behind closed doors’ which, unfortunately, has led to public confidence in the process being significantly undermined.
One of our main concerns has been the absence of a robust engagement plan for the STP but we have been assured that this is in hand.
As a result, we will be meeting with local engagement leaders to discuss the plans for engaging local people in the STP and to see how Healthwatch Derbyshire can support the process and add value going forward.
Following on from this we hope that it will be clear how patients and members of the public will be involved in the STP process.
We are committed to working with the organisations involved in the STP to advise them on meaningful engagement and consultation based on our knowledge and experience of talking to and gaining feedback from local people.
We have been told the STP for Derbyshire is better described as a proposal for change, not a plan, so there is still plenty of time for people to get involved and have a say on the future of their local health services.
I would therefore urge anyone who has questions or concerns about the proposed changes to health and social care in the county to get in touch.
Visit www.healthwatchderbyshire.co.uk for more.