It’s important to reflect on our learning about the last seven years: In many ways Healthwatch Herts has been very successful, we have a strong reputation with those in Health and Care who make key decisions; our research work has produced important insight and changes, our signposting service deals very effectively with complex cases to support patients and enable their voices to be heard. Our governance is very strong and our Board and Team are committed and talented. We have evolved effectively to meet the changing world of health and social care.
But there is a need for change. Our financial model now requires us to generate revenue to supplement the reductions in our commissioned budget; at times our focus could be seen as over-reactive, the organisation is stretched with staff working beyond their hours every week in a way that is not sustainable.
So this strategy is important to help us focus our limited resources on priorities, and also set the direction for change within our approaches
Looking forward we will focus even more on:
- Being more strategic
- Gathering more evidence
- Carrying out more research
- Focussing on outcomes
- Generating more revenue
- Reaching more seldom heard groups
To achieve this, our approaches will focus more on strategically planning our activities and recognising our capacity, the breadth of our agenda and the need to ensure what we do has impact and holds the system to account. With a scope covering all health and social care, we can’t do everything and so we need to have a sharp strategic direction, to inform our activity over the life of the strategy. Similarly our focus on increasing involvement from our diverse and seldom heard communities, will necessitate less attention on untargeted promotional work.
Our approach also needs to acknowledge that change is a feature of the health and social care environment and our ability to be a sustainable and flexible organisation remains critical in that context. To put this in context at the time of our last strategy, *STPs, ICSs, ICPs and PCNs were not invented, social prescribing was a local rather than a national initiative, and the commissioner/provider split was very distinct.
However the need for the patient and service user voice to be heard remains as important as ever and we look forward to making a difference to the health and wellbeing of local people.
We see our role as independent ‘critical friends’, balancing the desire for positive relationships with statutory bodies, and other organisations, challenging on behalf of local people, based on their needs, and experiences. Our credibility and reputation over recent years has grown stronger with partners in the health and social care system and we want this to continue going forward. To uphold our reputation and recognised as a serious, professional organisation we need to be clearly focussed and manage expectations.
To deliver our role, organisational values are very important to us, are therefore part of this strategy, and signal our style of working to implement it.