Healthwatch Kent recognised in national awards

Healthwatch Kent has been highly commended at a prestigious national award ceremony for their work to improve the wheelchair service for the 22,000 people who currently use a wheelchair in Kent and Medway.
national award

Healthwatch Kent was recognised under the ‘The impact our team makes’ category in the Healthwatch Awards 2020, which are run by Healthwatch England.

This annual event – which this year is took place virtually due to the pandemic - celebrates the difference Healthwatch’s 4,400 staff and volunteers have made over the past year. Healthwatch Kent was one of only 30 local Healthwatch out of a total of 152 across England to be shortlisted for an award.

Healthwatch Kent have been working alongside the Kent Physical Disability Forum to gather feedback about the wheelchair service in Kent, and escalate their collective concerns to the organisations that commission and provide the service but also to the Kent Health Overview Scrutiny Committee.  Thanks to their work and the commitment of the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group and Millbrook Healthcare, the following improvements have been made:

  • Over £500,000 additional funding has been invested to reduce the number of people waiting for assessments
  • Waiting times have reduced
  • Saturday clinics have been introduced to reduce waiting times and increase flexibility
  • Feedback from people who use a wheelchair is now actively gathered, listened to and acted upon.
  • Wheelchair users are working directly with the service
  • The wheelchair service created a new engagement post and employed a wheelchair user
  • A new Service Improvement Board, involving wheelchair users, has been set up to review progress and delivery of the Improvement Plan. 
  • More clinical and support staff recruited.  
  • Several public events hosted to meet service users face to face and gather feedback.
  • A new website has been created to make it easier for local people to see local information. 
  • Commissioners and decision makers are now aware of all the issues and able to tackle them. 

Like their colleagues across the country, Healthwatch Kent staff and volunteers have been supporting their local community more than ever through the pandemic. Highlights include:

  • Finding out how people are coping during the pandemic and ensuring decision makers hear their experience in real time so that they can make the necessary changes to services
  • Helping people who find themselves looking after someone to understand what support is available to them
  • Giving Care Homes across Kent a voice and an independent route for them to share what it’s really like for staff and residents
  • Helping people find the information they need about services in their area
Every day we try to improve health and social care services for people. Sometimes it can take months or even years to see any real difference, so it’s great to have our efforts to improve the wheelchair service recognised. There’s still much to do, but we’ve been working in partnership with the Kent Physical Disability Forum, Millbrook Healthcare and Commissioners to ensure the experiences of people who use a wheelchair are heard and used to make a difference for everyone else.
— Healthwatch Kent's Robbie Goatham
I never stop being inspired by the dedication of local Healthwatch staff to making care better for their communities. Whether reaching out those whose views are not being heard, helping people to find the support they need or making sure NHS and social care services act on the improvements that the public want to see, the award entries highlight the difference local Healthwatch make. I would like to congratulate everyone who has been recognised. They have done their communities proud.
— Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair of Healthwatch England

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