●» WITH Dr Paul Bowen, a GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton, and executive chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). WITH the general election looming, the NHS is an inevitable hot topic.
Issues keenly debated include A&E waiting times, access to GP appointments and the availability and quality of care.
While the cut and thrust of political sparring appeals to some, there are others who may feel alienated from the process, because they believe they are powerless to influence what happens to healthcare in their community.
Yet here in Eastern Cheshire, there are lots of ways in which people can help shape the way in which the NHS works.
For more than two years, NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has supported an independent voluntary body called HealthVoice, which represents the public’s views and informs the CCG’s decisions about planning and buying health services for more than 204,000 people.
HealthVoice is open to everyone and meets every six weeks in venues across eastern Cheshire.
Find out more by visiting www.echealth voice.info or following @ECHealthVoice on Twitter.
However, attending HealthVoice meetings is by no means the only way to have a say on healthcare in eastern Cheshire.
All 23 of our GP practices have a patient participation group that ensures patients’ views are taken into account when decisions are made on primary care services – ask your practice receptionist for details.
The CCG’s governing body meets in public every month.
Its next meeting is in Congleton Town Hall on Wednesday, April 29, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, followed by an informal question and answer session until 9pm.
There is also an organisation called Healthwatch Cheshire East which works with volunteers to inspect local health services and investigate people’s complaints.
Here in eastern Cheshire, we take public involvement very seriously – underlining the commitment in our Caring Together transformation programme to empower people to take great care of themselves and influence the way we work.