People are being invited to join a new network which offers the opportunity to ‘get your voice heard at the highest level’ and help influence local health and care decisions in West Yorkshire.
The network, called West Yorkshire Voice, has been set up to bring together individuals, groups and organisations with the aim of supporting people to have their say about health and care services and to put the voice of people at the heart of decision-making at a West Yorkshire level.
Developed by West Yorkshire Healthwatch organisations, on behalf of the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (WY HCP), the new network will be a platform from which to share the views and experiences of people and communities with the West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), which plans and delivers health and care services across the area.
Cathy Elliott, chair of the NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, said:
As the independent champion for anyone using health and care services, Healthwatch is a key partner within WY HCP and ideally placed to do this essential work on our behalf.
We really want to reach as many people as possible, so that we can make sure people’s feedback and experiences of local services are heard at the highest level.
This is ultimately all about making the right decisions and ones that make a positive difference to everyone’s lives.Cathy Elliott, chair of the NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board
As well as hearing from people about their experiences of health and care, West Yorkshire Voice will also focus on specific topics set to be discussed at forthcoming ICB board meetings – with mental health services among those planned for later this year, along with dentistry and social care.
A short survey has been launched to enable people to share their experiences on these issues and ensure a clear picture is brought to decision-makers about the key things which matter to people as well as what could be improved and what works well.
Sharanjit Boughan, associate director working with Healthwatch across West Yorkshire, encouraged MindWell readers with experience of mental health services, both good and bad, to share their views through the survey.
One of the key issues that will be coming up over the next few months is mental health and we’d really like to hear about your experience about mental health services.
The survey is short – just two or three questions. It gives people the opportunity to share their experiences in different ways and we can be collating that information and have it ready for when the topic is discussed at the ICB board.Sharanjit Boughan, associate director working with Healthwatch across West Yorkshire
Sharanjit said, through West Yorkshire Voice, people with lived experience and carers will be invited to speak directly to board members before the meeting to have their voices heard in person.
It has real impact. And alongside that, we will also be sharing information and insight into all that people are sharing with us about what is important to them.
It’s an opportunity to get your voice heard at the highest level.Sharanjit Boughan
These pre-board meeting ‘engagement sessions’ have already successfully taken place on topics including GP access and children and young people.
The latter was through the West Yorkshire Youth Collective, whose young members raised issues including access to mental health support and waiting times for assessments in neurodiverse conditions such as autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
The young people who attended the board workshop were said to have described it as a positive experience and that they felt heard by the board members in attendance.
They are examples of the wide range of involvement and engagement work which takes place at WY HCP to ensure people have a say to shape and improve services.
West Yorkshire Voice will build on work taking place in local areas and will link into networks which already exist on local and county-wide levels. It aims to reflect the diverse population and communities from across West Yorkshire, and is particularly keen to include the voice of those with the greatest health inequalities.
Ensuring diverse voices are heard from across the area is essential to help health and care services meet the needs of all our communities.
One of the key messages is that people can get involved in whatever way works for them.
By becoming a member, it doesn’t mean you have to do x, y and z. We want people to be involved in a way that works for them. It’s about being inclusive.Sharanjit Boughan
The network’s first newsletter has just been published and the hope is that word will now start to spread about the network and its vital work.
It’s about getting people involved and bringing to us what their issues might be. We want to become a network where we are saying: ‘This is what people are talking to us about’.
We’re asking ‘what is important to you and what do you think are key things that we need to feed into the ICS?’ You can join in a number of ways including as a professional or individual, or you can just subscribe to the newsletter.Sharanjit Boughan
Click here for the survey to share your experience about mental health services, or other upcoming issues of dentistry or social care. Or call 0113 898 0035 to complete the survey over the telephone or in a different format.
For more information, visit the website West Yorkshire Voice: West Yorkshire Health & Care Partnership (wypartnership.co.uk).