Healthwatch Derbyshire, the independent consumer champion for health and social care in Derbyshire, has been appointed to ensure that people who use mental health services and their carers are given a greater voice in how health and social care services are run, and changed.

The public watchdog, based in Milford near Belper, is setting up a new Mental Health Service Receiver and Carer Engagement Service on behalf of Derbyshire County Council and the Clinical Commissioning Groups across the county.

A wide range of mental health service receivers and their carers will be invited to get involved in the service, which includes people with Dementia and Autism. They will be invited to share their experiences of all health and social care services, not just those specifically related to Mental Health.

Healthwatch Derbyshire Chief Executive Karen Ritchie explained that it was vital to give mental health service receivers and carers a greater voice in how health and social care services were provided in the county.

“A report by the independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS in England ‘Five Year Forward View for Mental Health’ has highlighted that, for far too long, people of all ages with mental health problems have been stigmatised and marginalised – all too often experiencing an NHS that treats their minds and bodies separately.  The report recommends that services change to:

  • include a seven-day NHS;
  • better integration of mental and physical health services;
  • and more emphasis on prevention and health promotion to help people lead better lives as equal citizens.

“This will be part of Derbyshire’s over-arching Sustainable Transformation Plan ‘Joined Up Care’ that is currently on the table looking at how we can significantly change how health and social care services are delivered in the future.

“Key to the success in these plans will be to ensure that services are led by the needs of the individual and not the system.

“Meaningful engagement with patients, receivers and carers of mental health services across Derby and Derbyshire is therefore more important than ever.

“By bringing professionals together alongside Service Receivers and Carers, we can help to ensure that services are joined up, coordinated, efficient and of high quality – working in the best way possible for the people that use them.

“We are therefore delighted to have been appointed to deliver the mental health engagement service.

A team of staff are now in place to start delivering the service, and the work of the service will be overseen by a User-Led Steering Group who will link into the Healthwatch Derbyshire’s Board.

The service will work in partnership with the Mental Health Action Group (MHAG) which has operated in the city and Southern Derbyshire for more than 10 years.

MHAG coordinator Niki Glazier said that the group’s members would have a valuable role in the engagement service.

“MHAG has given people a voice for many years and our involvement in the engagement service will take this further.

“It will bring our members around the table with commissioners and providers of mental health and social care services which is a positive step forward.”

© Healthwatch Derbyshire 2017

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