Introducing our Local Committee members: why they are so essential for our work and getting your views heard

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For us to work effectively as a Healthwatch, we need regular input from representatives of local patients, residents, and carers. This is where our Local Committee come in. They are boots on the ground in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea, taking the time to listen to what’s really happening in our communities when it comes to health and care provision.

Every two years we carefully review and select the people who represent your needs as members of our Local Committee. They help to guide and set our strategy and scrutinise our work based on their knowledge and recommendations. Alongside our focused engagement work carried out by assessments, focus groups, and surveys, our Local Committee members help to make sure your views and experiences are heard.

Introducing six new members…

A couple of months ago we held an election process in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea where potential members could apply by submitting a 300-word statement telling us how they could help our work in the community

Kensington & Chelsea
Sonia Richardson
Sumit Ghose
Jill Browne

Westminster
Vivene DavidHazy
Judith Morris
Anna Velkova

Meet Victoria Borwick: existing Committee Member

 

“I am very interested in local health provision, and was keen, with so many changes to how health services were commissioned locally to try and make sure that patents still came first.”

Victoria serves on our Local Committee in  Kensington & Chelsea and this is what inspired her to join:

What’s your background?

I have previously been an elected representative and continue to serve on our Local Committee. I have four children and sadly two of them have spent a long time being helped by the NHS. One of our children is disabled and I am always keen to make sure that everyone has access to good healthcare especially primary care.

What inspired you to become a HWCWL committee member?
I am very interested in local health provision, and was keen, with so many changes to how health services were commissioned locally, to try and make sure that patents still come first.

I liked the fact that the Healthwatch team actually did practical work – surveying service delivery and getting first-hand experience from patients to feed back into the system.

The Healthwatch Central West London team are very proactive and keen to really find out how the services are delivered locally and able to take on projects. They are also very aware that not everyone has access to a computer and thus it is important to reach out to those that are elderly or vulnerable who often need more services but don’t know what is available.

Whats your team superpower?
As a team I think we work best when we go out and about into the community to study how a project / service is being implemented. We take time to listen to patients and can question how a service is meeting patient’s needs (or not). We can then make recommendations which hopefully lead to service improvement as we can monitor outcomes

Are you involved in any other community work?
Yes, I volunteer for a food bank, and collect and deliver food 7 days a week, so I have a reasonably good feel about what is actually going on across the Borough. I am also a school Governor, so I have seen the impact on children’s and families lives during COVID-19.

What will the Local Committee be working on next?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been holding joint borough meetings, as much of our work in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea overlaps. Now, with relaxed restrictions, we are organising hybrid meetings to discuss and plan three key projects with our members’ guidance, input, and time:

Investigating GP Access with mystery shopping
We are working with members to investigate the experiences of young people and families who have used first point of contact services such as GPs and Safer London’s Front Door.

The aim of this piece of work is to look at how different departments pick-up on safeguarding concerns and how they make referrals after that initial point of contact to ensure that there is a quick response and the initial enquiry is handled in the best possible way. This involves one-to-one support with young Londoners and families, as well as our group work.

This was a big focus of our work in 2020 and it was challenging to get people to participate during COVID-19.The initial work has paved the way for a further study sponsored by a local Councillor.

Members of the mystery shopping group will work with us to create a script with key questions. They will then phone local services to capture what the experience is like. These experiences will be shared with the London Safeguarding Board.

The bridge to understanding local residents’ experiences first-hand
Local Committee members are actively involved in representing Healthwatch in
local borough meetings, where we receive individual feedback about current developments. A few members have been actively involved as Dignity Champions and have contributed to major HWCWL projects such as the St Mary’s A&E project, where local committee members actively got involved in finding out about patient experience in the triage system at St Mary’s A&E. They have proactively gathered first-hand feedback for us from local residents and service users.

Dental and Oral Care
How Dignity Champions are working with care homes in Westminster and RBCK to hear from residents about their access to dental care.
Read more here

If you have a question about our Local Committee, please get in touch by contacting Sumita at sumita.ahmed@healthwatchcentralwestlondon.org