‘Never better time to have say on care’

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Six years ago Wendy Chew suffered a heart attack and underwent a triple bypass operation at Papworth Hospital.

When she came home to Spalding five days later she says she found navigating her way through a “complicated” system to organise her after care was daunting.

She said: “Fortunately, I had been a nurse so I was able to tap into the system. But I saw how difficult it could be for most people coming out of hospital.

“Access to the right person is the key. I’m passionate that people don’t have the experience of where to go and who to speak to.”

Her experience inspired her to get involved with Spalding and District Healthwatch as well as becoming chairman of the Patient Representation Group at Monroe Medical Centre.

But it is in her role at the South Lincolnshire CCG lay member for patient and public involvement that she is particularly proud at the moment.

For the past few days she has been promoting the national Patient Participation Group Awareness Week.

The aim of the week is to highlight the importance of patient participation, ensuring that patients’ perspectives are at the heart of primary care, as well as improving the quality and safety of services.

Mrs Chew became the CCG lay member 18 months ago and covers 18 medical practices in the area, including areas from Spalding to Gosberton, Long Sutton to Sutterton, Bourne to Stamford and Moulton.

She said: “Because I’m a patient myself you could say I’m an insider looking outside.

“I’m extremely proud of how practices have taken on engaging with patients. Each group is unique to its location. Some do surveys, others are active in organising meetings with patients to gain their views and there are those do fundraising.

“From the information gained, practices can see whether patients prefer to see doctors face-to-face, or talk to their doctor on the telephone.

“Younger patients with mobiles may want to receive information electronically.

“The challenge is meeting everyone’s needs.”

Mrs Chew is urging residents across the district to take on board the message of Patient Participation Group Awareness Week and become a member.

She said: “There has never been a better time to get involved.

“We are all good at talking to friends and family and saying things could be done better.

“Now is their opportunity for change. People really can make a difference.”