· Jenny Baker – Chair, Healthwatch Bucks and Miguel Souto – Interim Chief Executive, Healthwatch Bucks
· Martin Gallagher – Chief Executive Officer, The Clare Foundation
· Katie Higginson – Group Chief Executive Officer, Community Impact Bucks
Miguel Souto, Interim Chief Executive, Healthwatch Bucks presented slides 58-61 of the all-in-one slide pack and highlighted the following points.
- Healthwatch Bucks approached both statutory and non-statutory providers to offer support at the start of the crisis by providing information for the public to stay safe during this period; they also acted as a conduit for information for providers or commissioners to reduce the anxiety people were having around local services.
- Healthwatch Bucks gathered feedback and escalated any issues to commissioners, providers and Healthwatch England.
- The work programme was reviewed to include projects to capture people’s experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic and the following surveys were carried out:
- The overall impact of the pandemic
- An assessment of information provided by Trusts, GPs and pharmacies
- A survey on the impact on routine appointments
- two surveys on the effect of Covid on cares homes: one focusing on residents and another on staff.
- Early feedback from patients showed issues over prescription delays and anxieties over vulnerable people not being on the official shielding list.
- There was also lack of clarity over government and local guidance.
- There been over 500 responses to the survey on the overall impact of the pandemic and more detail would be available next month.
- The next steps in supporting the recovery would be to:
- Work with the growing network of hard-to-reach groups to ensure that their voices were heard as part of the recovery (e.g. digital exclusion).
- Gather views on the mental health impact of the pandemic.
- Assess the impact on people waiting for cancer treatment.
- Capture the experience of people living with effects of Covid-19 as a long term condition.
Martin Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer, The Clare Foundation, and Katie Higginson, Chief Group Executive, Community Impact Bucks presented slides 62-64 and highlighted the following points:
- Approximately 17-18 charities had come together with the Council to form a VCS Taskforce at the start of the pandemic to co-ordinate and support the needs of the county.
- Many charities faced a cut in their income stream but many organisations had found funding from other sources; overall the sector had lost approximately £1bn.
- An incredible amount of work had taken place to coalesce the needs of the residents in Buckinghamshire.
- Community Impact Bucks had worked alongside Public Health to gather insight from the voluntary sector as part of the rapid Health Impact Assessment. The report had shown the voluntary sector organisations had deep concerns about the way that health inequalities had widened through the pandemic and feared that the gap would grow. The need for clear accessible, culturally sensitive services which took account of language barriers had been identified. The lack of accessible information had increased the fear of accessing health services when needed. There was a need for support for family carers, both adult family carers and young carers who had taken on additional responsibility through lockdown and were likely to need additional catch up support from schools.
- Many vulnerable people, who were most in need, did not have online access or the skills and confidence to access online alternatives.
- Community Impact Bucks had already seen positive steps of voluntary organisations and statutory services working together to find ways to provide face-to-face support safely and cost-effectively. Particular concerns were expressed about those with dementia and their carers, those with hearing and visual challenges, who were unable to use the phone, and households which might have only one smartphone or device for all family members to access all services, including schooling.
- Voluntary organisations have been enthusiastic about “The widespread spirit of collaboration across all health, council and voluntary sector partners”, and the opportunities to build on that for the benefit of our communities. Voluntary organisations had highlighted a need to invest collectively in prevention and early intervention to stop issues becoming more acute and intractable to both improve outcomes for people but also to ensure that the best use was made of resources.
- There was a significant challenge around the stigma and shame of not being able to cope and needing to ask for help; sometimes small organisations, rooted in and led by their communities, were the best for reaching people.
The following points were raised and discussed by members of the HWB:
- In response to a query on whether the feedback received by Healthwatch Bucks was being forwarded to the relevant partner organisations, M Souto stated that urgent issues would be escalated. The final report would be circulated to statutory providers and commissioners and they would have a duty to respond and act on any issues.
RESOLVED: The Health and Wellbeing Board NOTED the presentation provided by Healthwatch Bucks and the Voluntary and Community Sector.