Welcome to your fortnightly e-Bulletin from the Healthwatch Milton Keynes team.
Hello from our CEO
This month, NHS waiting lists are high on our agenda. The pandemic continues to create extreme pressures across all health services, and Healthwatch England are asking patients and their loved ones to share their experiences of having appointments/referrals/treatments/procedures delayed or cancelled. Receiving a letter or a call advising you that your appointment has been delayed can understandably leave you feeling forgotten, unimportant and in considerable pain or
discomfort. It can also create enormous anxiety if you’re awaiting a diagnosis, or an exploratory procedure. If you are among the 5 million waiting for NHS treatment, alongside Healthwatch England we’re asking people in our community if they’re getting advice, information and support during their wait.
If you can, please share the survey with anyone you know who has been affected. It would be really encouraging to see some improvements before we head into an uncertain Winter period, when COVID and seasonal pressures will be combined.
Also, I wanted to say a huge thankyou to those who took the time to share their experiences around the COVID vaccine. We’ve already passed all your responses onto the MK vaccination team, and we’ll be updating you on the outcome in the coming weeks.
CEO Healthwatch Milton Keynes
Want to understand more about the NHS services available to you in Milton Keynes?
Our NHS commissioning team have published two new patient information leaflets that are a good place to start! The health and social care system can feel like an incredibly confusing place, even to those that work within it, so clear patient information is really important.
‘Help us keep you and your family well’ explains the different NHS services available to residents and their families and how to best access them. The leaflet will be delivered to every household in Milton Keynes this month. Copies will also be available at GP practices, pharmacies, and children’s healthcare settings.
‘A new healthcare team’ explains the range of healthcare professionals that now work at GP surgeries and in the wider community.
COVID boosters planned for people with weakened immune system
The JCVI is advising that people with severely weakened immune systems should have a third vaccine dose as part of their primary COVID-19 vaccination schedule.
This third dose should be offered to people over 12 who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV and recent organ transplants. These people may not mount a full response to the standard vaccination and may therefore may be less protected from COVID. Read the full guidance Once full plans are released, we’ll be providing updates.
A waiting game
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many people in the UK having their operations, treatment and appointments cancelled or delayed to free up inpatient and critical care capacity. While this helped medical staff respond to the crisis, it has resulted in a huge backlog of people waiting for treatment, including in Milton Keynes.
The latest data shows that the number of people waiting for routine operations and procedures in England is at its highest level since 2007 – currently at 5.45 million.
Healthwatch England have responded by launching a national survey to better understand the impact on patients of delayed treatment. The link to the survey is below, under ‘Have your say’.
The team at Community Action: MK have launched an online tool for the Voluntary and Community Sector in Milton Keynes to capture social intelligence to make a positive impact. The data sharing tool enables organisations to work together to ensure that real lived experience and grass roots needs are understood in order to improve life in MK for all. The tool will enable our local groups to record their intelligence in one place, which can then be analysed, shared and communicated. The aim is to have a collective bank of intelligence that can be used to influence the local decision and policy-making, so that our local services reflect the needs Milton Keynes’ residents. Find out more
World Suicide Prevention Day: 10 September 2021
Friday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide is in the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages. Data shows that 63 people took their own lives in the Milton Keynes Council area between 2017 and 2019 – that’s 8.9 deaths for every 100,000 people. Globally, It’s responsible for over 800,000 deaths – which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds. Every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend, colleague.
Preventing suicide is possible – we can all play our part. We can raise awareness, educate ourselves about the causes and warning signs, show compassion and care for people are in distress in our community, question the stigma and taboo associated with suicide, and mental ill health in general.
Take a moment to reach out to someone who may be in need.
This Saturday, 11 September the MK Pride Festival is happening in Campbell Park, and we are super excited to be supporting this day of fun, love and laughter! Pride MK is a not-for-profit event and any money raised will go to services for the LGBTQ+ Community in MK and surrounding areas – and towards next year’s event. Please come with your smiles, glitter, families, friends! The entire Healthwatch network champions diversity, inclusion and equality. These are values that sit at the heart of what we do. Giving a voice to those who are marginalised is a powerful thing, and we’re proud to celebrate the wonderful, diverse LGBTQ+ community in MK.
‘Type 1 & Tech’ is an online conference organised by Diabetes UK and aims to connect the type 1 diabetes community with healthcare professionals and researchers. The conference will be hosted by Professor Partha Kar OBE, National Diabetes Specialty Advisor at NHS England and Consultant Endocrinologist at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and introduced by Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK.
The conference offers a variety of topics in engaging and interactive formats, such as live poll, and it features a packed agenda of researchers, healthcare professionals and people living with type 1 sharing their experiences. This year they’ll cover issues highlighted by COVID through presentations, conversations and opportunities for questions and debates with experts, as it analyses the ever-growing role of technology in diabetes care.
Want to learn more about ageing and how it affects your brain? This is the latest talk in the Open University’s Ageing Well Public Talks series, and Dr Jitka Vseteckova will explore all aspects of nutrition and ageing. Book your place now.
Mashallah MK: supporting Afghan and Syrian child refugees
Building on MK Islamic Arts Centre’s renowned ‘Art in the Park’ festival, this year the arts organisation are holding a day of entertainment on Sat 25 September, 1-10pm. The day is for all the family, packed with live music, food, spoken word, story-telling and film at Chrysalis Theatre.
15% of the ticket donations are going to The British Red Cross, to support the children of recently arrived refugees from Afghanistan and Syria.
We know that not everyone in Milton Keynes is getting the help they need while they wait for care. It’s a situation that’s being repeated across the country, and Healthwatch England have launched a national survey to understand your experiences. Everything you tell us is confidential and will help us and the NHS understand what needs to be put in place to better support people like you.
So whether it’s gynaecological surgery, a knee replacement or a biopsy you’re waiting for, if you’ve got a story to tell, we want to hear it.
We want to hear your experiences of local health and social care services so that we can work to improve them. The more feedback we receive, the more powerful our message becomes. Getting in touch with us is easy. Visit our website to find out how.