Our success stories so far
Maternity Services at the Royal London Hospital
In 2016, the maternity at the Royal London Hospital was rated Inadequate by the CQC and put in special measures. A series of measures have been implemented by the Barts Trust leadership, including training for midwives, the opening of the Lotus Birthing Centre and the creation of a homebirth team.
Through the local Healthwatch in Tower Hamlets, which we were running at the time, Local Voice have championed the perspective of patients, ensuring all changes and improvement plans are informed by the experience of new parents using the maternity services. We have monitored all aspects of care through various methods, including in-depth interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, engaging directly with patients, analysing reviews on social media , data from complaints and compliments received by the maternity; and from other organisations' reports.
Our comprehensive, regular reporting came with patient--informed and sustainable recommendations, which have been adopted by Barts Health as part of their improvement strategy for maternity. In 2019 the Maternity at the Royal London was rated Good/ Outstanding by the CQC, and we were credited in their report as a key stakeholder for informing change.
Access to GP and urgent care services in North East London
Since 2017, we have been working closely with the GP Care Group in Tower Hamlets to understand patient needs in the context of the transition to a system where telemedicine and remote consultations are increasingly common; with a focus on improving access to GP appointments both for those who could make the most out of telemedicine and for those who would be unable to use it or experience significant obstacles. For this purpose, we have focused on hard to reach groups and those least likely to speak out.
We have also worked with the NHS Barts Trust on understanding access to outpatients and urgent care services in the wider context of patient journeys; and how access to GP services and hospital-based urgent care impact on each other. Our recommendations informed better integration between GP and hospital-based services.
Our insights have helped improved GP access through understanding the demand for phone triage and online services; and hospital outpatients by identifying the need for better admin and information. They enabled the hospital and GPs to act quickly in the COVID pandemic to increase phone triage and online appointments. We gave them a better understanding of what did and didn’t work for particular patient groups in relation to digital access. Healthwatch Tower Hamlets, who we were running at the time, received a High Commendation from Healthwatch England for our work on GPs.
Public engagement on patient journeys continues across North East London.
Disabled East London residents in the Covid-19 pandemic
In 2021, we have led on extensive engagement with local people living with disability and long-term conditions in eight different boroughs of North East London. 518 disabled local residents took part in our engagement; they were a highly diverse group in terms of ethnicity, age, type of disability, employment status and life experiences.
By looking at different groups of people, rather than treating "disabled people" as a monolith, we have been able to look at the specific accessibility and communication needs, examining the intersection of disability, ethnicity and social class. One of our key findings was that information using mediums other than the written word can be significantly more accessible to some groups of people, including those who are sight impaired, have learning disabilities or ethnic minorities who prefer oral communication for cultural reasons.
Our insights have been crucial for informing Covid-19 vaccination strategy in North East London, including shaping a communications strategy with inclusion in mind- for the autistic community, the Deaf community, those with sight impairments and ethnic minorities.
It also provided key insights for providers of primary and secondary care across East London about prioritising and triaging routine appointments; online, written and in person communication
Healthier neighbourhoods and better local healthcare.
Tower Hamlets Health and Wellbeing Board wanted to know what would improve local people’s wellbeing locally. At the same time, the NHS wanted patients to help them develop a Long Term Plan.
So we talked to over six hundred people at local markets about that they would do to improve their health and the health of their local community. With all the amazing feedback we collected, we pulled together a comprehensive analysis of the most important issues mentioned. This analysis directly fed into the co-development of the Tower Hamlets Together Out of Hospital Strategy. Subsequently, we have engaged with local people throughout the Covid-19 pandemic on their experience of living, working and accessing healthcare in Tower Hamlets, with particular attention to the wider determinants of health and and to inequalities of access to community resources.
Our recomendations have led to improvements to mental health, substance misuse, early years, homeless, young peoples and health and housing services.
They also brought about a set of service measures for service providers designed by residents to meet their priorities; better informed local, regional and national NHS planning with a focus on digital access and inequalities; greater focus on air pollution and active transport; and increased digital service access for those who want it.
Young Influencers in Tower Hamlets
Services for young people were being designed without their input and therefore were not necessarily catering to their particular needs. But it’s not easy to gain or retain their interest in the co-design process. So we developed the Young Influencers group where young people who are incentivised (through shopping vouchers, work experience, training and feedback on impact) and supported to gather and represent the views of young people. Thwy worked on a project where their objective was to find ways in which to incentivise young people to engage in healthy behaviour and to give their feedback to help design local services. The group was highly diverse, reflecting the local population, and included mostly teenagers from ethnic minority backgrounds (Black and Asian).
They presented insights to Children and Young People’s Board, THT Born Well, Growing Well Partnership Board and the Tower Hamlets Together Board.
The Young Influencers have developed a photo research project using disposable cameras in response to COVID-19. They used photography to capture the world through their own eyes, and used it as a visual medium in combination with carrying out interviews to conduct research in their communities and with their peers.
The Young Influencers have worked with the Community Mental Health Team to co-produce a mental health trailblazer programme in schools.
They have also worked with Healthy London Partnership and the Born Well Growing Well THT Board to co-produce and establish an innovative Young People’s Primary Care Hub.
Sexual health services in Tower Hamlets
Sexual health services were difficult to understand and navigate and we wanted to gather community insights to help re-design a more integrated service. So we spoke to 66 sexual health service users and 72 gynaecology patients; producing a comprehensive report with recommendation; then followed through on stakeholder engagement to make sure the voice of local people is at the forefront of decision-making .
In response, local NHS service providers made changes based on our recommendations, to improve communication and privacy for patients; ensuring better and safer access.
They updated the East London sexual health website with accurate information, and they introduced Inform Patient kiosks and online registration to improve patient confidentiality and give patients the choice to self-book in. Patients can now get results sent by text message with an average three-day turnaround. Some reception areas are now separate from the waiting areas; which improved privacy and made people more comfortable disclosing sensitive information.
The Royal London Hospital opened eleven beds as winter surge beds to reduce the need for patients to be placed on Ward 8C and protect day surgery and Emergency Gynaecology. Ward 8C is being remodelled as a gynaecology and female abdominal surgery ward to reduce the variance in specialities cared for and to assist in improving the quality of care for patients and staff.