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Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness: April news from your local health and social care champion!

Welcome to the April edition of our newsletter. This month marks our first birthday! We are holding an open day at the end of this month and would love for you to join us. During the past few weeks we have attended a UHMBT event on Disability Listening. Also, we have all the information you need about becoming a Healthwatch Community Champion, and if you need help finding an NHS dentist, we've got that covered too.

Grab a cuppa and settle in for a read of this bumper birthday edition!

1st birthday invite
Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness Open Day Invite

Celebration, Conversation (and Cake!)

Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness have just turned one. Doesn’t time fly? So, to mark our first birthday we are holding a celebratory event at our Barrow-in-Furness office, and we’d love you to join us.

This is a chance to meet all our team (we’re a friendly bunch), see what we do and chat to us about anything and everything health and social care related.

Did I mention there will be cake?

So why not save-the-date and come along. We’d love you to celebrate with us.

Date: 29th April

Time: Drop in between11am until 3pm

Address: Cavendish House, 78 Duke Street, Barrow-in-Furness LA14 1RR

Keep an eye out on our socials for more information!

UHMBT Learning Disabilities Listening Event
UHMBT Learning Disabilities Listening Event

UHMBT Learning Disability Listening Event

On 19th March, Lisa, our Senior Engagement Officer was privileged to be invited to speak at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust (UHMBT) Learning Disability Listening Event, at Stonecross Manor, Kendal. Organised by the Patient Experience Team and Brian Evans, Matron for Learning Disability, Autism and complex needs, the event brought together members of the local community with learning disabilities, their family members, carers and support staff, to hear their experiences and to discuss future improvements for the service.

Split into two parts, the morning consisted of Brian explaining his role and how UHMBT are listening to patients with learning disabilities and trying to improve their experience of care. This was followed by Lisa, who explained the role of Healthwatch and why it is important to hear peoples’ views of health and social care, highlighting that feeding back experiences to decision-makers can help improve services within our area. She talked about our Disability Voices report, what we have learned and our next steps following on from our recommendations. The Special Care Dentistry Team were next to speak, they introduced themselves, informed everyone what they do, where they are based and how to refer to them.

The afternoon session consisted of a workshop; this is where the real work happened. On each table were a set of questions for guests to discuss.

Read more.

Struggling to find an NHS dentist?

Read our tips on what to do if you’re facing problems finding an NHS dentist taking new patients

Everyone should be able to get the care and advice they need to keep their teeth healthy. Unfortunately, people across the country have told us they can’t get an appointment with an NHS dentist, with the situation worsening in many areas.

Where’s your nearest NHS dentist? Use the NHS website to search for a dentist near you. The site also provides information on which dental practices currently accept new patients, whether they offer urgent appointments, and how others have rated the service. While this is a good starting point for finding a local dentist, people often tell us that these records are only sometimes kept updated, so you should contact the practice directly for more information. If the records are out of date, you should let the practice know.

You can also visit a dentist outside your local area if it’s more convenient. For example, if you prefer to see a dentist near your workplace.

Can’t find an NHS dentist taking new patients?

People have told us they’re still looking for an NHS dentist who is taking on new patients.

In February 2024 the Government announced the dental recovery plan, which outlines ways it intends to make it easier for people to get an NHS dental appointment through extra funding for appointments, bonus schemes for practices taking on new patients, and mobile treatment vans. To find out more visit our explainer about how this will make it easier to access an appointment If you need help finding an NHS dentist taking on new patients, you may speak to your local Healthwatch, who can provide information about local services. However, please note that Healthwatch relies on dental practices to provide up-to-date information.

You should also notify NHS England about the issue, as it must provide routine and urgent dental care nationwide. Find out how to make a complaint here.

Read more.

Be a Healthwatch Community Champion!
Be a Healthwatch Community Champion!

We are looking for Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness Community Champions!

Do you have lived experience of using health services or do you care for someone who does? Do you want to help improve services and share your experiences? Then becoming a Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness Community Champion may be the perfect opportunity for you!

If you have a passion for your local community and making services better for people in those areas and beyond, then this is the right role for you.

You will be the eyes and ears on the ground, in the community, listening to people’s experiences and concerns and sharing this intelligence back to us. We can then use this information to feed back to the NHS, and other health and social care organisations to help improve and shape services.

This is a flexible voluntary role and your level of involvement can be discussed with your Volunteer Supervisor.

The role can vary from simply sharing information with us to attending networking meetings with other Community Champions – whatever works best for you.

Read more.

"A big bang in our first year!"

A message from our CEO, David Blacklock

Happy 1st Birthday Healthwatch
Happy 1st Birthday Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness!
Healthwatch Westmorland and Furness is one year old!
Created when the local government reorganised, we have been able to build on the reputation and great work of our predecessor Healthwatch Cumbria.
My personal highlights during year one have to be our launch, where it became abundantly clear just how strong our network, partnerships and relationships actually are. A room filled with allies all wanting better services and lives for our residents.
Then there is our work with the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, where I hold a seat and try to represent the views and best interests of local residents. The Integrated Care Board has definitely been in a development phase, but I remain concerned that not enough emphasis is being placed on the lived experiences of local people as system leaders make life-changing decisions.
There is also our “I Care” report that’s focuses on the lived experience of carers in South Cumbria, this is an important piece of work that shows us exactly what we need to do to support carers to keep caring!
And of course, many many more great pieces of work that have been delivered by a wonderful team.
Here’s to an equally successful year two!
Thanks for reading!