Consumer champion Healthwatch Bromley leading the charge for high quality medical care
PUBLISHED: 16:10 23 April 2014
Waiting times and difficulties making appointments can be frustrating to those trying to access medical care.
But help is at hand from the borough’s independent consumer health champion, which has celebrated its first birthday.
Healthwatch Bromley has tackled a range of issues in its inaugural year and is looking to continue its work on behalf of residents for many more.
Coordinator Folake Segun said: “We are here to help the public speak up about health and social care.
“We look at GPs, hospitals, dentists, any NHS service, as well as social care funded services such as care homes. We help Bromley people to get the best out of them.
“Our first year has been really good and positive; it has been great fun.”
The organisation replaced the Local Involvement Network in April 2013.
Although similar in some ways, Healthwatch Bromley is independent, can make recommendations to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to carry out special reviews or investigations and has a national voice through Healthwatch England.
It also shines a spotlight on children’s health.
During the past year, the organisation has looked into a variety of concerns voiced by members of the public.
Mrs Segun said: “One big issue for people is GP access. It remains a problem – things such as waiting times, how to book appointments and not understanding how the system works.
“There are also things like accessing phlebotomy services [blood tests]. If people want to make a complaint, we can support them and signpost them to the advocacy service.”
Healthwatch Bromley, which has recently finished surveying parents about their views on services, has set out its priorities for the next year.
These include looking into changes at hospitals and supporting people who have diabetes.
The organisation will also begin to conduct “enter and view” visits, where they will be able to go into premises to observe how they are run.
Mrs Segun said: “Some of it will be information that we gather in terms of talking to people, but we are not inspectors, we are not the CQC.
“We can take things straight to the CQC and Healthwatch England and make recommendations. It is going to be really exciting.”
At the heart of Healthwatch Bromley is its volunteers, who Mrs Segun hopes to expand considerably.
“We want to recruit several Healthwatch ambassadors, who will be local people on the ground who can be our eyes and ears.
“It would be fantastic to get two or three in every ward [of the borough] really.
“It will be great when we can build the volunteer workforce to support us in our engagement with people.”
Mrs Segun was the co-ordinator of Healthwatch Croydon before joining the Bromley team.
She added: “I have a long history in community development and in health involvement. It is very rewarding to be able to support people.”
For more information, visit healthwatchbromley.co.uk.