Dr Shane Gordon: Could you volunteer within the NHS?

Is there a volunteering role for you in your local hospital?

Is there a volunteering role for you in your local hospital? - Credit: IAN BURT

Dr Shane Gordon

I’m writing this during National Volunteer Week, so we might reflect that the NHS is not a remote, impersonal, giant system that imposes change on local people. We invite you to get involved with us voluntarily, in making decisions at all levels.

I understand if you are more or less happy with what the NHS does, then you may not want to get involved. However, we know that in Colchester and Tendring, demand for NHS services is increasing faster than the money we have for those services. Let me be absolutely honest: we are going to face some tough decisions. Just this year, we have a gap of £18million in our £412m local budget. Involving patients and members of the public in those decisions is the best way to ensure we keep improving services.

Following our recent Big Care Debate, we know the public supports our aim to provide care in hospital only when it is absolutely necessary. Most people said you would like the care received outside hospital to be properly joined up so there are no gaps or duplications no matter which part of the NHS provides your care.

We have already made some progress in doing this:

• you can now get blood tests in your own surgery and you don’t have to go to hospital • you can get your hearing test done at one of 14 GP surgeries and opticians, and hearing aid fitted on the same visit

• a new service at GP surgeries for diabetics offers more support to manage your condition

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• frail older, people in Tendring will soon have a new service offering assessment and nursing support in their own homes or in the community hospitals

• an improved “talking therapies” service for people with less severe mental health issues has just started

• the End of Life care register and SinglePoint service is helping many to have a “good death” according to their own planned preferences.

For each of these projects we spoke to people who used the services to ask them what we could do to improve services. So, how can you get involved?

• join the CCG Health Forum, or attend a forum meeting

• join your GP surgery Patient Participation Group – details at your local surgery

• join either Colchester Hospital or North Essex Partnership – details are online

• Let our PALs and complaints team know where you have had a positive or negative experience of healthcare

We are currently looking for people who are living with long-term conditions to help us in planning our services. We will be doing this through talking to members of groups, such as the Colchester Lymphoedema support network, but we are also keen to hear from patients and their carers who are not already members of these service user groups.

Visit www.neeccg.nhs.uk or call 01206 286500.