Healthwatch Reading’s job is to listen to the public, campaign for improvements and give information and advice. Here’s the highlights of how we did that over the past four weks:
31 July 2017: We welcomed our national umbrella organisation – Healthwatch England (HWE) – to Reading, where it held its latest committee meeting, at the Town Hall. Our chief executive Mandeep Kaur Sira was invited to give a presentation about the work we had done locally in collecting people’s experience of A&E. We were thanked for a ‘well thought-out’ project which ensured the debated centred about people, and which involved close working with both the public and health and social care partners. Use picture of Mandeep presenting – used on Twitter, or Mandeep might have?
2 August: We visited the Indian Community Centre to start asking people what they know about tuberculosis (TB) as part of a three-month project that aims to find out if the right Public Health messages are getting out in the right way, to the right people.
11 August: We held a successful event at Waitrose on Oxford Road, when we signed up more than 10 people in just a few hours, who said they were interested in becoming volunteers for South Central Ambulance Charity. Members of the public get trained in life-saving skills, in return for giving up some spare time to act as ‘community first responders’ to emergencies close to their home or work, ‘volunteer car drivers’ taking people to medical appointments, or charity fundraisers.
15 August: We were interviewed live on BBC Radio Berkshire’s Andrew Peach breakfast show, in a discussion about how the Royal Berkshire Hospital is introducing ‘GP streaming’ under plans ordered for all A&E departments by health ministers. We said any extra resource into the hospital was welcomed but we referred to our A&E patient experience study which shows that more could be done to ensure people get the right care from their own GP surgery, 111 or other services first.
17 August: We joined our voluntary sector colleagues at a Reading Borough Council meeting which was talking about how local charities should be funded from 1 June 2018, by the council, and in some cases, by the NHS too, to meet the needs of vulnerable people. Draft plans show some organisations could lose funds compared to current contract values, some are staying the same and some are increasing, so we hope to see more detail in the future about the rationale for deciding which areas are the most deserving of squeezed local budgets.