Hi and welcome to my blog. Time flies and I am now two months into my job as Chief Executive of Healthwatch Cornwall - so I thought it time to share some of my experiences just as we like to hear from you about yours when using the NHS or social care services.
As we all know Cornwall is not just spectacular landscapes and Rick Stein meals. Many people have trouble accessing health services in the county and I probably attend around 20 meetings a week with various groups to discuss how we can improve the NHS. Sometimes I feel that I might be in a “talking shop” and in others we make genuine progress. For example, I am on a working group that is trying to make sure no one is left out when receiving the covid-19 vaccine and it’s doing a really good job even if it is a challenge to get to everyone who needs the jab.
As I am new to the job, getting to know all the organisations and people who work to improve health and social care services is taking some time. I read there are some 3,000 charities in Cornwall! Fortunately I don’t need to meet them all but there are some great organisations we work with in the voluntary sector who either provide services or campaign for better health and social care. I am slowly getting to know who they are and where they fit into “the system.”
I’ve joined Healthwatch Cornwall during lockdown and that has presented its own challenges. We rely on volunteers to go out and meet people and speak to them about their experiences which we then feed back to the NHS and others. We can’t do that at the moment so rely on what we call digital engagement. This can be as simple as someone sending us an email or filling in a box on our website. You can even call us! So please if you have an experience of the NHS or social care services – good or bad – we would love to hear from you.
We hear a lot about mental health problems and it’s good that the stigma that used to be attached to discussing what we often call “stress” is disappearing. I find long walks are really beneficial – just to get away in the countryside works wonders. Healthwatch Cornwall ran a very successful Facebook Live event recently on mental health challenges, under the title Time to Talk. There were hundreds of participants and many good contributions about how we can tackle mental health and associated stress challenges. On our website there is an article about the beneficial effect of being by the sea on people’s mental health.
That’s another thing that makes Cornwall the great place that it is.