Welcome to your fortnightly e-Bulletin from the Healthwatch Milton Keynes team.
Hello from our CEO
We know that Milton Keynes has pockets of extreme deprivation, and last week, joint research by The Kings Fund and Healthwatch England indicated that waiting times for NHS treatment are greater in deprived areas. Over half of the people surveyed (57%) felt that the delay was taking its toll on the level of pain they faced. For me, this really hit home. We regularly hear from residents in deprived areas of our community who are struggling.
What is clear from this latest research (check out the article below) is that for those patients who cannot work due to ill health, treatment is an absolute game-changer. If you can get the treatment, procedure or operation you need, you have the potential to work and create stability for you and your family; you can participate in the things that make you happy; you’re free from pain and discomfort.
It’s true that the pandemic continues to prevent any real progress being made to waiting times. However, in acknowledging that this situation will not be resolved quickly, the focus for Healthwatch in its recommendations is on support for people whilst they wait: provide personalised, clear, accurate and consistent communication to people waiting for NHS treatment, consultation and surgery, including where they are on the waiting list.
The Healthwatch nationwide survey of those people who are currently on NHS waiting lists continues to run – all the links are below so please share far and wide with anyone you know who is affected.
CEO Healthwatch Milton Keynes
Winter vaccinations update
Vaccine boosters and flu: stay well this Autumn
The COVID booster programme is underway.
There must be a gap of a minimum of 6 months from the second vaccination to the booster dose.
Some GP surgeries are offering the booster programme and if you are in one of these groups, you’ll be invited to book your appointment with them directly.
those living in residential care homes for older adults
all adults aged 50 years or over
frontline health and social care workers
all those aged 16- 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 and adult carers
adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.
Do not contact your surgery, they will contact you. Alternatively you can book via the National Booking System to attend a vaccination centre or pharmacy – again, please wait for an invitation to do this.
There are NO walk-in facilities for boosters to ensure safety
For further information on the Booster and 12-15 year old COVID vaccine programmes please check out these FAQs.
The lowdown on flu
More of us are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill.
Getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around you for both these serious illnesses.
If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s safe to have the flu vaccine. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu.
The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to people who:
Are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by 31 March 2022);
Have certain health conditions;
Are in long-stay residential care;
Receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick;
Live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis);
People living in deprived areas waiting longer for treatment
New analysis from The King’s Fund and Healthwatch England shows that people living in the most deprived areas in England are nearly twice as likely to experience a wait of over one year for hospital care than those in the most affluent. This includes people waiting for planned hospital treatment such as knee and hip replacements, cataract surgery and other common procedures.
With a record 5.6 million people across the country currently waiting for hospital treatment, the analysis also shows that waiting lists are growing more quickly in deprived areas. From April 2020 to July 2021 waiting lists have on average grown by 55 per cent in the most deprived parts of the country compared to 36 per cent in the least deprived areas.
These disparities in waiting times are a significant concern for Milton Keynes, where 9 areas are amongst the 10% most deprived in England.
Better housing = better health
Better Housing Better Health is a not-for-profit service run by the National Energy Foundation, working to help vulnerable residents and those living in fuel poverty to access advice and support. It’s a vital service that’s free of charge and open to all residents experiencing issues with their home energy across Milton Keynes. They’re currently offering free training sessions for people working directly with the public so that you can spot the signs of fuel poverty, understand the causes and learn more about how they help residents and the different grants available. If you work for an organisation that supports vulnerable communities across MK then please take a look.
If you work with children or adults in any capacity, then you’re invited to join the #LookCloser Programme of Learning. All sessions are free of charge and will be delivered via Microsoft Teams. The
timetable below has links to the Eventbrite booking page for each event.
Feel free to join as many of these sessions as you like throughout the week. Unless otherwise stated, all sessions have been designed to be accessible and relevant to multiple professional audiences and stakeholders.
Every Mind Matters for Mental Health Awareness Day
This Sunday is World Mental Health Day, and the NHS is running its Every Mind Matters campaign alongside this. If you work with young people, or if you’re an educator, parent or carer, they are offering advice and guidance to support young people’s mental wellbeing. We particularly loved their 5 minute ‘Mind Plan’ , which is a few quick questions that culminates in some tailor-made tips designed to help with your specific situation: for example money worries, difficulty sleeping, relationships issues or general anxiety.
Photo credit: Andrew Ebrahim on Unsplash
‘Hear me, understand me, support me’
When babies, children and young people access health and social care, their experience should be as positive as possible. New NICE guidelines cover exactly what young people should expect at their healthcare appointments.
Adults might unintentionally see children and young people as passive recipients of healthcare. This can lead to children and young people not being listened to, having a lack of understanding of their own condition and may lead to problems that can affect future care (for example, finding it difficult to trust healthcare professionals or feeling very anxious before procedures). However, having a positive experience can make a child or young person feel confident, empowered and supported to manage decisions about their own health and healthcare, and can improve their perception of their diagnosis and treatment. This positive experience should also ensure that babies, children and young people are treated as individuals with a life outside healthcare, and not just as their condition or diagnosis.
Milton Keynes Council is now consulting on its draft Supported Accommodation Strategy, which will contribute to the council’s overall Housing Strategy. It will set out supported/ specialist housing and housing related priorities for people with care and support needs.
The provision of good quality support and specialist housing is a part of creating a place where all citizens can live well in Milton Keynes. The council’s vision is to secure the best quality of life we can for our older and vulnerable citizens both now and in the future. This means delivering a range of housing that enables people to live independently, with support and care where necessary.
If you have a professional or personal interest in supported accommodation, the Council want to hear from you: colleagues within the council and other agencies such as CNWL and BLMK CCG, local providers of supported housing and related services, and members of the public – all are encouraged to have their say!
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. Please share the survey far and wide with anyone you know!
Healthcare professionals and the role they play in your care: tell the NHS what you think
Our NHS Trust (Bedford, Luton and MK) are exploring the role and scope of ‘Advanced Practice Allied Health Professionals’ to shape how they develop health and social care in our community. What is an Advanced Practice Allied Health Professional? Good question! It’s a long list that includes:
art therapists, dietitians, dramatherapists, music therapists, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, orthoptists, osteopaths, paramedics, physiotherapists, podiatrists, prosthetists and orthotists, diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers, and speech and language therapists.
The aim is to make sure you are seen by the right professional, with the right skills at the right time. Our local NHS team are scoping the role and opportunity for use of Advanced Practice Allied Health Professionals and want your feedback and views. It’s a worthwhile campaign, so if you can, do take this opportunity to shape the healthcare you’ll receive.
The short questionnaire takes 10-15min to complete. The closing date for the survey is the 31st October midnight.
Have you taken part in the More Life weight management programme in MK?
If you have, then More-Life and the Open University would like to hear your feedback. Many people are referred by their GP, nurse or other community-based professional, to the weight management programme in Milton Keynes, More Life. If you’re one of these people, then More Life and the Open University are running a survey to hear how the course worked for you, and to understand your experiences. You can find the surveys on our website.
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.