WE’RE all specialists when it comes to the NHS.
Most of us have tried out the doctor’s surgery, maybe outpatient clinics and possibly even a hospital bed.
People will happily talk about their experience, particularly if it’s been a bad one, though hopefully the majority are nothing but good, resulting in a healthy outcome.
Now, as most of us know, there are major changes afoot for the NHS. It has been said it is the most extensive reorganisation since its formation.
It would be a waste if those changes occurred without anyone listening to the experiences of the people who use the service – us.
Spalding & District Health Watch is making sure that won’t happen by using its first meeting in Spalding on Wednesday, March 28, to invite people to come and have their say in order to influence the way health, mental health and social care services are planned and run locally.
If we’re honest, the majority of us know little about the changes the Government is proposing, although we expect at the very least it will mean the services we currently have available to us will still exist, and hopefully be even better.
The people who attend the meeting will learn more about what is proposed locally from Dr Charles Lennon, senior partner at Munro Medical Centre, who is heading up the new Clinical Commissioning Group for this area.
These groups, that have each been given a pot of money by the Government, will decide what services local people will have in future.
“There is so much going on in health services now and we want to make sure they are tackling issues that are common to a lot of people and will make a big difference,” said Wendy Chew, who is a member of Spalding & District Health Watch, currently known as LINk.
Wendy, a former nurse, got involved because of her “pretty challenging experiences” following a heart attack. There were a lot of problems around diagnosis and it was six months before she had surgery.
She says: “The surgery and care was superb but the duration of the patient journey was very disjointed.
“As I got better it made me think there were things that could improve the service, just tweaks, and better communication.”
George Scott, of Pinchbeck, has become involved because he feels strongly about the provision of mental health services in the county.
George explains: “It’s one of the fastest growing services in the county, never mind the country.
“About 10 per cent of the county’s health budget is devoted to mental health.
“When you think that one in four people are going to experience mental health problems or be affected by it, it is too small.
“People associate mental health with the elderly, but mental health in children is one of the most overlooked aspects in the health service.
“LINk is now taking this on board and we have a voice for what people would like to see.”
A career of 30 years in the police force followed by 12 years of managing health promotion services for older people with Age Concern has given Steve Colby an insight into the health problems that can afflict people.
Steve, of Pinchbeck, has also had his personal experience of struggling to get the treatment he needed and having to “do it for myself”.
He joined LINk because he believes he can use his experience within the group to “fight their corner” on behalf of people who don’t have a voice.
He adds: “In talking to friends I realised health services in this part of the county are disjointed.
“You have to fight very hard to get a complete, joined-up service.
“If I can add my voice to a group that will make that a little better for people that’s why I am here.”
The meeting on March 28 is being held in a meeting room at the Red Lion Quarter in Spalding (10am to noon) but spaces are limited so people are asked to register an interest in attending by phoning 01522 705190.
The meeting will not be able to take up single issues and is not a complaints society (PALS deals with individual complaints – pick up a leaflet from your doctor’s surgery).
The group wants to establish where there are common areas of concern, whether that is ambulance waiting times, getting a GP’s appointment or getting the elderly or the very young to health services.
The changes to services will happen and, as Wendy says: “We can either have it done to us or be part of shaping services.”