Welcome to our Chair Joe Slater’s first monthly blog!
Out and about this month in my role for the CCG
In public service we should never fail to recognise and support a whole range of individuals and groups that do so much to help those in need.
I’m privileged in my role as Chair of Blackburn with Darwen CCG to get many interesting opportunities to meet people and hear what they have to say about local services. It is great that I can also learn about what people do for themselves or others.
Recently I went to the AGM of Blackburn with Darwen Carers’ group. Sometimes AGMs can be a little routine but this one, although it lasted a couple of hours, was very lively and informative. Carers told their stories and two had made a video to show just what they had experienced whilst caring for their mum. It brought home to me again how much care is provided by family and friends and the impact this has on individual lives. We also heard about the gap left when someone dies. Truly moving. The Carers group does a great job in supporting Carers and campaigning on their behalf.
I went straight from here to the Redlam surgery to talk to their patients’ group about my idea for a forum for patient representatives from each GP practice in our CCG area. The forum would offer another way for me to meet patients, hear their stories, and identify any common themes. It would also provide a way of asking for views about our CCG plans for local services. I am working toward the first forum meeting being held in August and hope to have something to say soon.
I have also been to the Town Hall to attend the Older People’s Forum and to meet the Mayor to talk about his charity appeal. In case people have not heard, the Mayor’s charity this year is the Blackburn with Darwen Kidney Care Appeal. At the CCG we share the Mayor’s hope that funds will be raised to improve the quality of life of the many local people who live with kidney failure. The Older People’s Forum was very well attended. So well they had to bring in more chairs. They discussed the new meals on wheels service which sounds as though it is a welcome addition to the range of local support services.
Thinking about food takes me back to my first meeting at the Carers’ group. A speaker there was from the local food bank and described the growth of the ‘Bank’ and the sort of people they help. It is clear that changes to the welfare system make it difficult for some people to get enough basic support. The changes to the housing support system – sometimes called the bedroom tax – were on the agenda at a meeting of the independent tenants’ federation I attended. I went there to set out what the CCG hopes to do, what we are about and our work so far.
As a trustee of the Child Action North West Charity, I recently attended their awards ceremony celebrating the successes of young people. Children were recognised for their achievements and it was an opportunity to thank some very committed and able foster families who selflessly help so many children.
I am determined that as commissioners of local health services we recognise that to improve the health of the population, and indeed to control demand for health and social care services, it is vital to involve people so that they can influence our plans. How we as individuals behave and interact with others in our community directly affects health outcomes. I have therefore arranged that patient stories about using urgent care which have been gathered by organisations such as Age UK feature in the discussions we are having this week at the CCG about how to improve our responses when people seek help urgently. I will let you know what emerges from these deliberations.