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Here's our January 2012 e-news. If you'd like to sign up to our e-newsletters, and receive regular updates about our work, please email Lucy and we'll make sure you're kept up-to-date!


January 2012 e-news

Happy New Year from the Somerset LINk,
Where we are still nibbling on Christmas leftovers and wondering what 2012 will have in store for us (although as Steve has just pointed out while tutting at the lateness of the e-news, we are already three weeks in….). But before we wrestle the last of the mince pies off Jono, here’s a roundup of some of the highlights of 2011…

Looking back at 2011….


In January we kicked off our Enter & View programme of visits with a visit to Sydenham House inBridgwater – and we also spent a lot of time driving around the county distributing our Patient Transport Surveys! In February we attended the first meeting of Patient Participation Group Chairs from across Somerset (and if you haven’t joined yours, perhaps it could be your New Year Resolution?!) and we had another Enter & View Visit to the Grovelands Care Home in Yeovil. We also helped the South Somerset Disability Forum publish their report into accessibility at Yeovil District Hospital. In March we held our selection event to encourage a new group of LINkvolunteers to take the LINk forward into 2011-12 – and we definitely attracted a fantastic bunch who have worked incredibly hard over the year whipping us all into shape!  It’s been a challenging year for the LINk Steering Group and Representatives, with a fast-changing NHS landscape and new boards and groups popping up for us to try and get our heads around.  But we’ve already got a LINk Representative on the Clinical Commissioning Group (Eilleen Tipper) and the Health & Wellbeing Board (Diane Jepson) – who have hit the ground running as lay volunteers on these two important new boards. We’ve also been very fortunate in having two experienced captains at the helm of the LINk Steering Group, with David Boyland as the Chair and Bob Champion as our Vice-Chair.


In April the new volunteers held the first public meeting of 2011 and we heard from Musgrove Park Hospital and the Somerset Partnership about their plans for the year. In May we published our evaluation of theCarers’ Champions schemein Somerset - a project that trained GP surgery staff to be aware of the needs of carers in their surgeries, in order to increase the number of carers on GP’s carers registers and better meet carers’ needs.In June we held our LINk AGM and published our Annual Report for 2010-11, showcasing our previous year’s work. In July we published our report about Patient Transportin Somerset – which is being used to inform decisions about the transport service as it develops.

Autumn ....

2011 was the year that Somerset’s Joint Strategy Needs Assessment was ‘refreshed’ and in August the LINk worked with the project team from NHS Somerset and Somerset County Council to make sure that the voice of local people was heard. We published a report of the views of Supported Housing Providers about needs in Somerset. The JSNA was a huge piece of work (or a labour of love!) but it is now available online. You can access it on the SINe website at the data is also accessible via the INFORM website  We’ve had great fun working with the technical working group for the JSNA this year, and you can read more about it on our website here. In October we worked with the South West Alliance of Neurological Organisations (SWANO) and held a meeting getting together local people to set up a Somerset Neurological Alliance, work that will be continuing throughout 2012.


During November we attended various meetings and consultations about Local HealthWatch … in fact, during the whole of the year we spent a lot of time gnawing on our nails and trying to work out what Local HealthWatch might look like. Messages have been rather vague, although the idea of a new ‘consumer champion for health and social care’ still seems to be very much on the agenda.

So ... what’s coming up in 2012?

Have your say: About Somerset's Young Carers' Service

Somerset County Council are reducing their services to young carers. You can have your say about their plans, which are described in more detail on our website here.

 Have your say: About Musgrove Park Hospital

Musgrove Park want the views of patients and their families about what is important to them and what the hospital should focus on improving in 2012. You can take part in their ‘Quality Improvement Priorities 2012 Survey’ on theirwebsite.

Somerset Neurological Alliance

The LINk Steering Group has agreed to support the Somerset Neurological Alliance which will be setting itself up as a sub-group of the Somerset LINk, in order to give patients and their families a louder voice in services for people with neurological conditions in Somerset. Please do get in touch with us if you’d like to be kept up-to-date about this project.

Patient Stories

We're still collecting Patient Stories and you can read more about this project here. We've been publishing stories on the Patient Opinion website for local services to comment on - here's a recent story from Chard Minor Injuries Unit, which shows how the Patient Opinion website can work in getting feedback for patients.

What else have we done over Christmas and New Year?

We’re not just sitting here pulling crackers all day – we’ve had another busy few weeks at the Somerset LINk:

We’ve facilitated and run workshops at NHS Somerset’s conference on the ‘Equality Delivery System’ and the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s conference on their Patient and Public Engagement plans. We’ve given a talk in Exeter about Health & Wellbeing Boards and public and voluntary sector involvement, for the South West Forum. We’ve met with the Health & Wellbeing Board’s Executive Group to discuss the communication plans for the Health & Wellbeing Board. We’ve met with Musgrove Park Hospital to discuss our Patient Stories Project and with Somerset County Council’s Carers’ Strategy Group to discuss their plans for the involvement of carers in the future. We’ve also met with the very lovely staff from Taunton Citizens’ Advice Bureau to see the work they do. We’ve held the second meeting of the Somerset Neurological Alliance, for patients and carers with an interest in neurological conditions – and if you want to keep up with the development of this group, please let us know. We’ve been working locally with the CQC informing them of the findings of our ongoing Enter & View project.

Our LINk Reps have also been busy attending the Shadow Health & Wellbeing Board (our rep is Diane Jepson) and have met with Musgrove Park Hospital to discuss hospital discharge. The Steering Group Chair (David Boyland) and Vice Chair (Bob Champion) attended the ‘Where is your LINk on the journey to Healthwatch?’ event that was held in Bristol. We've also held our December and January Steering Group meetings - and you can read the minutes on ourwebsite here.
Link representatives also attended the first Bridgewater Bay Health Forum at the end of November.  The Health Forums bring together patient representatives with health providers and commissioners including members of the local GP Federation to discuss local issues and improve communication and understanding between patients and the health community. Plans are afoot to establish a West Mendip Health Forum in early 2012, covering the Wells/Glastonbury/Street federation area. We will be looking for a LINk representative from that area – so if you are interested, please get in touch.

 Next LINk meeting

The next LINk meeting will be held on Tuesday 21st February at 11am at South Petherton Hospital.  Our LINk meeting will be followed by a tour of the hospital.  All are welcome to come along to the meeting. Please let Theresa know if you are coming so there is no fighting over the slightly out-of-date stollen cake… email and she’ll send you an agenda.

That's all folks!

That’s all from us for now. Drop us a line if you have any questions about our work or any views on health and social services in Somerset!

Best wishes from the Somerset LINk staff team!


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