Healthwatch Essex Chief Executive Responds to NHS 10-year-plan

The NHS 10 year plan is a good reflection of leadership listening to huge amount of debate and conversation happening across the UK over the last five years. It is a positive reflection to see the NHS investing more resources to prevention & mental health. Just this month we heard that Mind in Brentwood, a very valuable mental health service for the community in our area was shutting its doors after funding was re-directed to other priorities. So we are very keen to see how this strategy translates into local plans in a way that makes a tangible difference to the public and, in turn, to the demand problems we see encountered frequently across primary and acute care.

We are very pleased to see a clear role for the Healthwatch Network across England in the way the strategy is put into place – recognition that patient engagement and lived experience remains at the heart of how we must reconfigure our health service to meet the demands of the future. The role of Healthwatch is to ensure that the lived experience of patients, staff, carers and families/friends is part of a new ‘co-production approach’ to the whole of the system. This is some challenge given the complex and every-changing nature of health and social care. Healthwatch Essex continues to build on its reputation as a honest broker of people’s lived experience of services in our county and, as the custodians of their stories, we hope to be able to help shape future strategy and policy in a very practical way.

My real concern about the long term plan lies in the funding available to deliver this piece of work and the delay in delivering a long term plan for workforce. The workforce issue has been highlighted consistently as the number one priority for all areas of the health care system. The plan will only work if we have the appropriate, skilled staff in the required numbers across the system.

Dr David Sollis