As part of our ongoing stakeholder engagement programme, we held our last Stakeholder Reference Group meeting on 27th March at the WWF HQ in Woking which was just before Easter.

The programme focused on presentations given by Ruth Hutchinson, Deputy Director of Public Health, and Dr Charlotte Pavitt, Darzi Fellow and Public Health Registrar at Surrey County Council on how social prescribing works across Surrey Heartlands, and from Kat Stalworthy, Associate Director for the Surrey Heartlands Digital Programme on our digital priorities.

Social prescribing is a mechanism for linking patients with non-medical sources of support within the community – things like access to other community support services, befriending services, activity classes – that seek to reduce inappropriate use of services and help in preventing individuals going into crisis.  Much of the problem is associated with socioeconomic deprivation or long-term psychosocial issues and often simple alternatives (to healthcare services) can make a real difference and get to the real root of a problem.  Following the presentation attendees had the opportunity for wider discussion, which highlighted issues such as the importance of good signposting, the importance of using the right language and good communication, how we are evaluating this work, and gaps in current provision.  This is valuable insight which will be used in developing the work going forward;  watch this space for further updates in due course.

Kat Stalworthy went on to describe some of the priorities for developing our digital programme of work, particularly focusing on the developing of a patient portal which eventually will allow patients to have direct access to their health and care records.  This work is still in development, working closely with patient groups and wider stakeholders and again, we will bring you further updates in due course.  The group also discussed the benefits of creating a shared care record – the Surrey Care Record – which is also in development following other examples which have been implemented in other parts of the country.  A shared care record will ultimately allow medical and social care professionals to see relevant parts of an individual’s record – with consent – to avoid patients having to repeat their details many times, and to ensure the right and best care can be given.  A wide communications campaign will be launched soon prior to the record going live – expected later this summer – and individuals will be able to easily opt out of the shared care record if they wish to.  In the first instance the shared care record will share a summary of an individual’s GP record with A&E departments at St Peter’s, Epsom, East Surrey and Royal Surrey hospitals only.  The group had a helpful discussion, with lots of questions which will be taken back to the project team to inform the ongoing work. 

Our next meeting will be taking place on Tuesday 8th May at Leatherhead Leisure Centre (10 am – 12 pm) – please email us if you would like be part of our regular meetings.  This meeting will include a focus on some of our prevention work.