Councillor Richardson welcomed from Healthwatch Olivia Clymer and Eva Psychrani who presented their recently published report “Healthcare in the Digital Era an Exploration of young people’s health needs and aspirations in Hammersmith & Fulham”. The report explored the impact of digitisation on young people nationally a link to which was included in the pack together with a consultation link inviting comments from the public and stakeholders. Key findings in the report which had engaged with young people in H&F included the use of technology was not necessarily linked to health, concerns about finding the right information online and that young people were more comfortable with accessing the NHS online using log in credentials. There was also an emphasis that maintaining a digital approach did not infer that traditional face to face access should be ‘lost’. The report had received a positive response and would ensure that NWL CCGs engagement plans around digital was communicated clear to residents to help alleviate patient difficulties in accessing services. Reference was made to the previous point about with 48% of people using specialist palliative care services implying an issue around signposting which might be replicated in technology. This was an opportunity to develop an approach early on.
Councillor Richardson identified that the Council’s approach to addressing mental health focused on prevention. Jo Baty confirmed that this was an issue that was being covered at Health and Wellbeing Board. Prevention was a big area of work and endorsed the findings of the report.
Co-optee Roy Margolis welcomed the report and its interesting recommendations and asked if more detail was available about the recommendations and specifically if any work had been undertaken on the cost of implementing them. Olivia Clymer responded that the role of Healthwatch was to identify issues, provide challenge and affect change so that the patient voice was heard and acknowledged. There were further details in the main report and could be included in an appendix to the report. Keith Mallinson, as Chair of the Healthwatch Central West London Committee reported that he had recently attended a CAB forum presentation and was shocked at how many people were being signposted to services which were no longer accessible.
Jim Grealy asked how many young people consulted a GP in person and if there was a sense of whether having a digital approach was preferred in place of attending an appointment at a GP surgery. Eva Psychrani explained that there was a sense that follow up and prevention work could be digitised but that everyone needed the confidence and reassurance that arose from a face to face appointment.
It was noted that this was a valuable report in given the number of people who were being turned away from CAMHs (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services). Councillor Lloyd-Harris observed that it was helpful to have a definition of mental health which normalised the issue. The perception for example that drugs, and alcohol issues were ‘normal’ and therefore not perceived to be a problem by the current generation but may have been by a previous generation. Eva Psychrani responded that in some ways mental health concerns had been normalised and reported that the focus group had been aware of the effects of smoking and alcohol. It was clarified that the recommendation for a mental health app was not linked to having a mental health digital intervention. Mental health needs had been identified through first exploring the issue in conversation with young people and then linked to digital intervention.
At 9.50pm the Committee agreed that the meeting be extended to 10.15pm.
Jo Baty confirmed that the Council would welcome the opportunity to work with Healthwatch in reviewing mental health services and acknowledged that transitioning from Children’s Services to adult services could be a tricky time. Young people were not always aware that they might have a mental health issue which might have been missed earlier. It was recognised that information and guidance could always be improved.
A member of the public enquired about what support was in place for H&F residents who lived on the Edward Woods estate and had been affected by the Grenfell Tower fire. Councillor Coleman responded that the Council had reassured residents who were concerned about losing their homes and had committed £20 million to implementing fire safety measures which included the installation of fire safety doors regardless of whether residents were tenants or private owners. Lisa Redfern reported that a great deal of work had been undertaken to support residents since Grenfell in practical terms with a variety of Council services being offered.
ACTION: For the Strategic Director to identify what support had been put in place for H&F residents on the Edward Woods estate following the Grenfell Tower fire.
Councillor Coleman observed that the report interesting and that the Council had been working with the Youth Council to develop an app on information about available activities within the borough. This dovetailed with the work on social isolation and loneliness which also addressed mental health. Councillor Coleman also observed that there was a clear contrast highlighted between young people accessing services and young professionals accessing GP at Hand.
That the Committee welcomed and noted the report.