Brighton and Hove health watchdog airs concerns about funding cuts

Funding cuts for the community and voluntary sector are among the key concerns for a local health watchdog.

Healthwatch Brighton and Hove said: “The NHS and Brighton and Hove City Council have limited funds.

“It is therefore more important than ever that people who use health and care services can directly influence how that money is spent.

“The NHS Long-Term Plan and integrating health and care services will be the big challenge for next year.

“In 2018-19, NHS services improved in the city and we have many excellent community services despite national funding for social care failing to meet demands.

“However, NHS national targets are not being met. For example, it’s more difficult than ever to get a GP appointment and young people find it difficult to get the emotional and mental health support they need.”

The concerns are set out in the newly published Healthwatch Brighton and Hove annual report.

The report is due to presented to the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board next week.

Healthwatch said that encouraging people to use alternatives to accident and emergency counted as one of the local success stories.

The organisation – an independent consumer champion for health and care – carried out interviews with 89 people who attended A&E.

These resulted in 28 recommendations which have been acted on by Royal Sussex County Hospital.

Among them were better promotion of alternatives to A&E, more support for GPs to provide advice on conditions that don’t need emergency treatment and more clinical support staff working for the NHS 111 service.

Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has introduced a new service providing general practitioners (GPs) at A&E and promotes the Brighton Station Walk-In Centre in Queen’s Road as an alternative.

Healthwatch recommended more joined up services between what is promised in hospital and what is received when patients return home.

It also asked for a review of delayed discharges to make sure patients were not in hospital any longer than they needed to be.

Healthwatch also said that it had reached 727 people to hear their views about health and social care services in Brighton and Hove.

Young Healthwatch spoke to 280 young people at three city schools to improve the environment and create better relationships with teachers.

They suggested that information about improving emotional and mental health was embedded in the curriculum.

Next year Healthwatch plans to revisit A&E to check improvements have been made.

It also aims to check that a city-wide plan to improve hospital discharge and community support is under way.

The report is due to be discussed at the Health and Wellbeing Board at Hove Town Hall next Tuesday (10 September). The meeting, which should be held in public, is schedued to start at 4pm.

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