Engaging with local health partners

11 mins read

With so much change happening in the NHS, engaging with local health partners, including Clinical Commissioning Groups, GPs or health trusts is very relevant for parent carer forums.

This page offers some information, resources and guidance on how parent carer forums can engage with local health partners:

In this article

Engaging with local health partners – a toolkit for parent carer forums

Engaging with local health partners toolkit [PDF] explains health commissioning structures locally and nationally, answers the ‘who does what’ question and introduces some of the levers forums can access to influence local decision making.

NHS Long Term Plan

The NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, is the strategic plan that outlines priorities and areas of work that the NHS will be concentrating on in the next 10 years.

There are six main areas of focus in the plan:

  1. Redesigning how we access the NHS including increased community care, digital solutions and more joined up working (Chapter 1).
  2. Improving health inequalities and more work on preventative care (Chapter 2).
  3. Improving quality of care and outcomes (Chapter 3).
  4. Workforce (Chapter 4).
  5. Making better use of technology (Chapter 5).
  6. Financial sustainability (Chapter 6).

Some areas to note that could be relevant to parent carer forums

Expanding primary care including developing Primary Care Networks where GPs work more closely with other local practices. Developing multi-agency ‘neighbourhood teams’ that include GPs and other staff such as nurses, pharmacists, physios, social care and voluntary sector.

All Sustainability & Transformation Partnerships (STPs) will become integrated care systems (ICS) with the assumption that it joins up local authority, CCGs, hospital and community providers. A new ICS accountability and performance framework that includes patient, carers and public in the measurement of how well integrated the local area is.

Rolling out the NHS Comprehensive Model of Personalised Care including more personal health budgets, more social prescribing including ‘link workers’ to navigate local options.

Increased funding for children & young people’s mental health services, including: expanding access to community based mental health services team, expanding children & young people mental health crisis teams, extending services to cover 0-25 to support transition to adult service.

Improving NHS wide understanding of the needs of people with learning disability and autism, including: making STPs/Integrated Care Systems responsible for making sure reasonable adjustments are carried out, developing national learning disability improvement standards, a ‘digital flag’ on patient records to identify those with learning disability or autism, testing and piloting ways to reduce waiting times for specialist services, including autism diagnosis, continuing to promote annual health checks at GPs and testing a specific autism annual health check and by 2023/24 children with learning disability, autism or both with complex needs will have a designated keyworker.

Selectively moving to a 0-25 service with a target of person centred and age appropriate care, rather than an arbitrary transition to adult service based on age by 2028.

What does this mean for parent carer forums?

Some potential opportunities for forums to develop their engagement with health

The development of Primary Care Networks will make engaging with GPs easier as they will be working more closely together, some are already doing this.

The continued focus on Learning Disability and annual health checks that GP practices carry out will give an opportunity for forums to raise the profile of disabled children (including those with learning disability) and help GP practices understand the reasonable adjustments that children with disabilities need.

Most areas have some sort of regular training for GPs in the area, ask your CCG who leads on this

The continued focus on learning disability and autism also provides leverage for parent carer forums to get involved with the work happening locally and can also be used to highlight how the work around learning disabilities can equally relate to all children with disabilities. All Transforming Care Partnerships should be working with local groups including parent carer forums.

If you are not involved, ask your CCG who is leading on this work

The commitment to personalised care in the NHS is an opportunity to link the work around the Children & Families Act and the NHS. There is significant overlap in the model of personalised care and the SEND reforms (person centred care, supporting/empowering people to make decisions & be involved in their care – section 19 principles, personal budgets, signposting to local support & services – local offer).

CCGs have targets of personal health budgets to achieve so parent carer forums can help CCGs to increase the numbers of personal health budgets, ask your CCG about who is leading on personalised care or personal health budgets

Social prescribing is part of the model for personalised care and means anything that can improve a person’s health and wellbeing that is not specifically an NHS service. It can include support groups, activity classes, exercise classes or just signposting to local services.

Parent carer forums may already know of (or link in with) many of the supportive groups, activities or services outside of the NHS that are helpful to parent carers. This also links with what the SEND local offer should be achieving. There will be the development of ‘link workers’ or ‘community navigators’ who GP’s and other health professionals can refer to.

Forums can ask to be involved in developing  the social prescribing ‘offer’ in your local area & link it with existing Local Offer work – ask your CCG who is responsible for social prescribing

Some areas to for forums keep an eye on

STPs becoming Integrated Care Systems. The current STPs haven’t yet engaged particularly well with patients or public so the development of the integration measures gives a good lever for parent carer forums to engage with STP’s/ICSs

There is a growing consensus that it is likely CCG’s in STP/ICS will merge to form one single CCG. Some CCG’s have already merged but expect this to become more common.

You can find your local STP/ICS and a contact for the STP/ICS here: england.nhs.uk/integratedcare/integrated-care-in-your-area/

Forums can contact your local STP/ICS and ask how they are involving the public in development of their plans.

The majority of these developments will be happening in CCGs or STP/ICS. If you are unable to find the relevant people to engage with, you can also contact your regional NHS England SEND lead to help or put you in contact with the right people. If you don’t know who this is contact your regional adviser via the how we support forums page or your NNPCF regional representative.

For further information and links to relevant documents see Health Resources.

Engaging with GP’s

Contact, NNPCF and NHS England Learning Disability Project.

Contact has been working with NNPCF and NHS England to pilot an approach to improving access to Learning Disability annual health checks for young people aged 14 and over.

Why are we doing this?

People with a learning disability are four times more likely to die of something which could have been prevented than the general population. They can often have poorer physical and mental health than other people.  An annual health check can improve people’s health by enabling problems to be spotted earlier.  

All GP practices have a learning disability register and anyone on that register who is 14 years old or over should be offered an annual health check.

What have we been doing?

We have been working with Bromley Parent Carer Voice to increase parent carer awareness of GP learning disability registers and annual health checks and have co-produced resources aimed at GP and practice staff and a factsheet for parent carers.

We co-produced an updated guide for GP’s, practice staff and other health practitioners to understand the needs of children and young people with disabilities which includes some simple reasonable adjustments that they can make to their service.

We updated a guide for GP’s, health practitioners and commissioners, to increase their understanding of the specialist services that disabled children and young people access.

The guide will also help parent carers to understand how health professionals can support their child or young person around issues that commonly affect disabled children and young people.

We co-produced a factsheet for parent carers of a child or young person with a learning disability. It has information on GP learning disability registers and annual health checks including why they are important, and how they can support their child or young person to access the services that they are entitled to.

Co-presented a webinar with representatives from Bromley Parent Voice and NHS England. The webinar covers what GP annual health checks are and why they are important and explains GP learning disability registers and who should be on them. It also highlights what to expect from an annual health check, what a Health Action Plan is, and what to do if this is not what you experience.

How Parent Carer Forums can use this work

If you are planning to engage with GP’s in your local area, you can use the resources above to initiate a conversation either with individual GPs, or through the ‘networks’ of GP surgeries that are developing. If you talk to your CCG, they should be able to direct you to the person leading on annual health checks. The guides have been co-produced with GP and CCG representatives, as well as parent carers.

Printed versions of the guides (above) will be provided to forums through your regional network meetings and your regional NNPCF steering group member.

If you would like additional printed copies of the guide, please email parent.participation@contact.org.uk

Working with Healthwatch

Contact and NNPCF working with Healthwatch England.

Healthwatch England, NNPCF and Contact have been working together to improve relationships between parent carer forums and local Healthwatch organisations.

You may already know that all local authority areas are required to have a Healthwatch, who act as a consumer champion for health and social care. They have a number of statutory powers that includes a seat on the Health and Wellbeing Board and the ability to undertake ‘Enter and View’ assessments of services and organisations that are registered with the Care Quality Commission.

They also have an information and advice function related to health and social care (and are mentioned in the SEND Code of Practice) and some Healthwatch’s also provide NHS complaints and advocacy services. As part of the work we are going to explore how the information and advice remit works alongside the SEND Information and Advice services.

We have co-produced a Policy Briefing for local Healthwatch staff and volunteers to raise awareness of SEND and Parent Carer Forums:

We have also co-presented 2 webinars:

  • Who are Healthwatch and how to work with us? explains Healthwatch and how they work, highlights some areas where Healthwatch and parent carer forums can work jointly and offers case studies of good practice.
  • Download the What is Healthwatch? presentation from the webinar.
  • What is a Parent carer Forum? (webinar coming soon). A webinar presentation for local Healthwatch to understand the work of local Parent Carer Forums (PCF’s) and their national umbrella body, the National Network of Parent Carer forums (NNPCF) and gain insight into how shared data intelligence can work well. The discussion will include case studies and explore how PCF’s can provide strategic representatives for the Healthwatch network to enable successful collaborative working.
  • Download the What is a Parent Carer Forum? presentation from the webinar

Healthwatch SEND policy forum 2nd July 2019, Bristol.

An event hosted by Healthwatch England for local Healthwatch and Parent Carer Forums to explore joint working.

The day focussed on shared learning around Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) for Children and Young People aged 0-25.

We are looking for examples where Healthwatch is working well around SEND, or working with their local parent carers (including forums), so if you know of any local Healthwatch that is working well for SEND families, please get in touch.

If you would like more information about this joint work, or if you would like to improve your engagement with Healthwatch, email: parent.participation@contact.org.uk

Book a Contact workshop

We have an introductory workshop that forums can purchase to help understand the different organisations and terminology. The workshop will help you identify key points for influencing and engagement. It is aimed at forums that want a more bespoke, facilitated learning sessions.

Find out more on our training webpages.