Mental health is a key area of discussion in public conversation on health and care in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent

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With one in four of us likely to experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives, it’s important we all make our views heard about how these and other health and care services are provided across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

The Together We’re Better partnership of NHS and local government organisations, working alongside Healthwatch and voluntary and community sector groups, is currently holding a 12-week listening exercise on what works well, what should be improved and what is important to local people when it comes to health and care.

Together We’re Better want to hear your views on all aspects of health and care, with one of the main areas of focus being mental health services, and the associated challenges, including:

  • increasing the level of public understanding and reducing stigma around mental health conditions;
  • meeting the growing demand and rising pressures on existing services;
  • the harmful effects of loneliness and isolation to health and wellbeing;
  • encouraging children and young people to feel comfortable asking for professional support;
  • reducing the lengthy delays, in some areas, for assessments for patients presenting with common mental health conditions.

Dr Waheed Abbasi, Clinical Lead for Together We’re Better’s Mental Health programme, commented: “There has been a huge focus on mental health over the last few years and we’ve seen a significant additional investment. As a result, we have been able to improve in many areas, including our crisis service, our services for children and young people and also services for patients with learning disabilities and dementia.

“We have done a lot of work already, but we still face many challenges around access, crisis support, care and recovery, as well as the big challenge around stigma - which we are still fighting.

“To face these challenges, we need to be innovative, we need to think differently and work collaboratively with our health and care partners. It’s also important we involve local people, patients, carers and clinicians to shape the future of local health and care services. I hope people will get involved, tell us about the services they want for the future, the services they really need in their community, and those services that are most important to them.”

In addition to mental health, the 12-week public conversation, which runs until midnight on Sunday 25 August, is also focussing on:

  • Simplifying the local urgent and emergency care system
  • How the local health and care system can embrace and fully utilise new technology and ensure the buildings we deliver services from are fit for purpose
  • Reviewing the use and function of the community hospitals in South Staffordshire
  • Exploring what ‘integration of health and care services’ really means for local people
  • Identifying additional priorities that will deliver clinical and financial stability.

Your views will not only help in developing any future service proposals, but also inform the local Five Year Strategic Plan that will be published in Autumn 2019 and outline the local response to the priorities set down in the national NHS Long Term Plan.

How to get involved

More information about the 12-week public conversation can be found on Together We’re Better’s website at www.twbstaffsandstoke.org.uk/get-involved/health-and-care. There you will be able to:

  • Read our Health and Care in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent document, and Summary document, that goes into more detail about what this is about, why change is needed, the challenges and opportunities locally and the areas we need to talk about
  • Complete an online survey that seeks your views. Hard copies of the survey, including an Easy Read version can also be provided by getting in touch through our Contact Us page
  • Book a place for one of our listening events, taking place across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
  • Drop in to one of our roadshows being held across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent in busy public areas such as shopping centres, supermarkets, leisure centres and libraries.

You can follow Together We’re Better on Twitter @TWBstaffsstoke and on Facebook @TWBStaffsandStoke.