Healthwatch Hertfordshire – Annual General Meeting 19 July 2022

Every year our AGM gives an opportunity to reflect and celebrate our achievements.
Colourful graphic image of a group of hands in the air


Reflecting on another busy and sometimes challenging year Healthwatch Hertfordshire are proud of our work representing the patient voice.  By encouraging people to share their experiences we have been able to help shape and influence health and social care services.  Our highly acclaimed evidence driven research programme focussed on outcomes and has gone from strength to strength with notable projects linked to health inequalities.

On the day Steve Palmer, Chair of Healthwatch Hertfordshire welcomed 48 attendees including Board members, volunteers and representatives from the Voluntary and Community Sector to the meeting.

Highlights from the year

Once the Annual Accounts were approved and signed off, Geoff Brown, Chief Executive reflected on key highlights from the year as published in our Annual Report 2021/22.  Highlights included how we:

  • Captured your voice through our research and engagement programme and helped to make a difference to health and care services thanks to over 3,000 Hertfordshire residents who shared their health and care story
  • Worked on ways to reduce worsening health inequalities by ensuring community voices are at the heart of design and change
  • Spent over 650 hours signposting over 450 enquiries helping people to navigate and access local health and care services (an increase of 66% on the year before).

 Concerns included access to GPs and Dentistry, long delays in treatment and       outpatient appointments and mental health services.

  • Designed new models of patient and community involvement including coproduction with West Herts Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and South and West Herts Health and Care Partnership and through the Community Assembly for the East and North Herts Health and Care Partnership where members can get involved in specific work streams and strategic planning.

He concluded that partnership working is key to our success and that improvements made to our communication channels to improve accessibility, readability and style have made a big impact.  Examples include our new style newsletter and the website which was launched in 2021.

Although it was a challenging year, this summary shows how much was achieved and I would like to place on record my thanks to the highly qualified, hard-working Healthwatch Hertfordshire team, committed volunteers and our dedicated Board who ensure that we maintain a strong, ethical business that is Healthwatch Hertfordshire
— Commenting on the achievements - Steve Palmer, Chair of Healthwatch Hertfordshire

Steve additionally took the opportunity to thank six Trustees who had stepped down during the year, thanking them for their dedication and service to the organisation over many years.

Key research findings

Our in-house Senior Research Manager, Chloe Carson and Senior Research Officer Natasha Austin presented headlines from a major research project ‘Making Local Healthcare Equal for All’

Their presentation was comprehensive and insightful and explained their focus on Black and Asian communities for this project.  Early scoping highlighted that Black and Asian people wanted the opportunity to talk about their concerns with healthcare and that it would be unrealistic and unfair to group all communities together.

They explained their research approach, how they used different methodologies, what they learned and how they were able to gain more trust.  They highlighted some poignant personal stories told by people sharing their experiences and key findings included issues of discrimination, mistrust in healthcare and cultural competence.

Findings from interviews with NHS leaders showed that there is a strong commitment to tackle ethnic health inequalities and to improve the care Black and Asian people receive.

The findings and recommendations are being shared with NHS leaders across Hertfordshire for their responses and actions they are taking to address these.

In the Q and A that followed key points included positive messages about the research and the importance of working to reduce inequalities generally and with disadvantaged groups.

The summary and full report will be launched by September and will be published on our website.

Welcoming our Guest Speaker

Tom Hennessey, Director of Health Integration at Hertfordshire County Council gave a thought provoking talk ‘Integrating health and social care – why it matters for people’

His presentation was really well received and people welcomed the way that he talked about the everyday challenges and realities that patients face on a daily basis.  A summary of his presentation can be downloaded below.

‘Integrating health and social care – why it matters for people’

A summary of Tom Hennessey's presentation and a diagram showing the structure of Integrated Care Systems.

Summary 'Integrated Health and Social Care - why it matters for people
A diagram produced by the King's Fund showing the key planning and partnership bodies for Integrated Care Systems

Summarising the event Geoff Brown, Chief Executive said:

We were delighted with the turnout this year and felt that the audience were fully engaged with the AGM presentations with positive feedback  about the interesting and challenging content.  We look forward to another year ensuring the patient voice is heard as we continue to have a direct impact on the transformation and development of health and care services across Hertfordshire.”

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