Point 5 on our MoU priorities for 2024/25 was “Develop together a Vision for Primary and Community Care as announced in the Joint Forward Plan, with the VCSE Alliance bringing in its insights on co-production and lived experience from its action groups.”
Andrew Grillo, Head of Wellbeing at Oxfordshire Mind; Rachel Peters, Partnership Manager at WBVC; and Stephen Barnett attended a large primary care workshop at Wycombe Wanderers football ground on behalf of the Alliance; James Voller, Director of Services and Development from Age UK Oxfordshire should have come too, but was ill on the day.
“The workshop itself was quite an eye-opener for me. Huge challenges around primary-secondary care referrals/reporting and not unrelated getting all the databases to talk to each other. Lots of worries about people who aren’t ringing their GPs at 8am but really should see someone – and how to find those people out there in ‘the community’ and build their confidence to seek help.”
Action Group Discussions
We then focused the three action groups in November on primary care asking, “What can we offer the ICB so that VCSE organisations can help GPs deal with demand for mental health support pro-actively?”. Rachel came to the Mental Health group and Andrew came to the MH action group.
Here are some of the things that were raised:
Ageing Well (15/11):
Rachel Peters shared her observations from the primary care summit, emphasizing the need for prevention and community-based solutions. The group discussed the relationship between hospices, primary care, and social prescribing services. They discussed the fact that GP practices and PCNs do know their local need but based on primary care data-sets that may not be public and show up very different local issues.
LD & Autism (16/11):
The primary care team is considering how to implement a national report on primary care, the Fuller Stocktake. Stephen also highlighted tensions between GPs and hospital doctors, inadequate resources, and difficulties with digital communication. The group decided to input on the strategy to improve support for primary care in the expectation that it would be finalized next spring.
Mental Health (2/11):
Andrew shared his thoughts on the workshop, focusing on a recent meeting in High Wycombe about primary care, optometry, and dentistry. Themes that emerged included pressure on general practice and friction between primary and secondary care. The strategy to tackle these issues will be completed within the first few months of 2024, but there was uncertainty about the VCSE potential role and social prescribing was not in evidence.
Stephen is going to pull together some of the findings from the action groups and go back to the ICB primary care team with this, possibly convening the VCSE people who’ve been involved again with the ICB team.
There is also now an engagement website which will be open for input until 31 January 2024 and there are multiple Healthwatch focus groups : https://yourvoicebob-icb.uk.engagementhq.com/primary-care-conversation
The engagement toolkit is here (PDF) (including social media posts)