Listening to those at the heart of receiving mental health support and those involved with providing care is key to ensuring the NHS is doing its best.
This is why the South Eastern Hampshire and Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Groups, which plan and buy health services for the area, set up and supports the mental health service user forum, which covers the Portsmouth and south east Hampshire area.
In Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 14 to May 18, we look at the work done by the forum since it was set up last June.
The forum provides the opportunity for service users to let commissioners know about the quality of services they receive, to suggest improvements and highlight good practice. One current project being worked on by the forum is looking at the way people are discharged from hospital – asking patients and their carers what works well, and what needs to be improved. That project was undertaken because of feedback from forum members.
Dr Emma Nash, mental health lead for Fareham and Gosport and South Eastern Hampshire CCGs, said: “We are incredibly proud of the work we have achieved with the forum so far and the valuable feedback we have had to help shape our mental health commissioning.
“Meetings are held every other month, and it is important to us to ensure that the work of the forum is led by people who use mental health services – it is not under the direction of the CCG.
“Guest speakers are invited to attend and give updates on local initiatives to improve services. We look forward to building on the strong foundation we have laid.”
Forum members include service users, carers, patient groups, voluntary sector agencies and service providers.
The forum has created a survey for patients who have recently been discharged from hospital. Anyone who has had experience of mental health inpatient care in the last six months is welcome to submit their views via surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MHleavinghospital.