Few people turn up to some health consultation and public engagement events, a leading Brighton and Hove doctor said yesterday (Wednesday 24 October).
Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chair David Supple spoke of his disappointment at a governing body meeting, saying that only a few people turned up to a finance drop-in session.
The event was organised as the CCG grapples with in-year cuts of £14 million to an annual budget of about £400 million.
A CCG spokesman said that the events – on Monday 8 October, Thursday 11 October and Friday 2 November – have been publicised on Twitter as well as through local media to encourage people to come along.
The events were not included on Facebook – and the CCG has vowed to “redouble” its efforts to promote its activities on its Facebook page.
However, at the governing body meeting Jane Lodge, head of engagement, said that some CCG events such as the Big Health Conversation were “not meant to attract new people”.
She said: “With events such as the Big Health Conversation, it is useful when people know a little bit about our work.”
Groups invited directly to public engagement events such as the Big Health Conversation were members of patient participation groups, Healthwatch and local voluntary organisations.
Healthwatch is a national organisation acting as a consumer champion to make sure all health and social care needs are met.
Healthwatch Brighton and Hove’s chief executive David Liley would like more public involvement but said that there were times when a specific group was required.
He said that if Healthwatch needed to work with, say, deaf people then it working with an “established community leadership”.
However, he was frustrated about reaching ordinary people to get them involved in public discussions about health and social care.
Mr Liley said: “If you’re having a conversation with your own family, you can get riled up with issues you’re passionate about.
“Health and social care is not always up with your daily worries, but on the day it is, it is the most important issue of their lives.
“The issue of how best to engage with the general public is ongoing. I would like to see more people welcome into more meetings.”
Brighton and Hove CCG said that engagement work was not just about big public meetings but about reaching groups and communities in “their space”.
The CCG said: “We work hard to ensure the voices of those who use our services, and their carers, are at the heart of our work, and that we continue to extend our reach to hear from and involve as many local people as possible.
“The Big Health and Care Conversation in Brighton and Hove included 2,800 conversations, most of which were held through outreach, community-based engagement and surveys, not just big public meetings.”
The last of the finance sessions is due to take place on Friday 2 November at St Richard’s Church, Egmont Road, Hove, from 1pm to 3pm with free tickets available from www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/finance-drop-in-west-hove-tickets-50260361093.
The next Big Health and Care Conversation is at Hove Town Hall on Friday 9 November from 1.30pm to 4.30pm, with a focus on prevention and social prescribing, urgent care, primary care, planned care and mental health.
Free tickets are available from www.brightonandhoveccg.nhs.uk/publications/our-programmes/big-health-and-care-conversation.