All of my career has been spent working either in the Department of Health or the NHS. Having lived and worked in south west London, this led, in my retirement, to my becoming a trustee of Healthwatch and then Chair of the Healthwatch Richmond committee.
Each year Healthwatch enters and views a number of services that are commissioned by the NHS and Council. From these visits we write reports that commend good practice and highlight areas where improvements can be made. Recently, with the local Youth Council, we surveyed the emotional wellbeing of young people. Our recommendations were taken up by children’s commissioners in the CAMHS transformation plan and we hope to do further work with the Youth Council in the future.
In Healthwatch I get to see things through a totally different lens from my professional career. It is refreshing to hear different perspectives and satisfying to be able to influence future spend on and shape of services.
My proudest moment came when I was Director of Commissioning in north west London, when learning disability services were still provided in distant long stay hospitals. One of my main priorities was to replace this provision with client-centred services into the local community. I regularly met with parents who were initially hostile to the changes and the unknown. My biggest thrill was, after the changes had been made, when a parent told me that this was the first time in 28 years their son had been able to turn the light off in his bedroom so he could go to sleep instead of sleeping on a ward, and he could control his own life.