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How we have responded to your concerns about the future of Sexual Health services in Surrey

Healthwatch Surrey is completely independent of the NHS and Surrey County Council and exists to ensure that the voice of the public is heard in the way NHS and social care services are planned and delivered.  We are a statutory body with certain legal powers.

Changes to Sexual Health services in Surrey

Healthwatch Surrey was not informed or asked to be involved in any of the engagement prior to decisions being made about the future of sexual health services.

We attended an event in May 2017 to listen to views about service changes affecting people with HIV and sexual health conditions. 81 people attended the meeting and during that time, 48 experiences were shared with us.See Snapshot of people with HIV and sexual health conditions – June 2017.

Since then we have used our powers to raise these concerns in a number of ways (in sequence):

  1. We have shared what we heard at that event with commissioners at Surrey County Council and NHS England (see report above).
  2. We have written twice to commissioners questioning the extent of engagement and consultation.
  3. We have attempted to raise the issue at the Adults and Health Select Committee. This is a County Council committee which scrutinises decisions about health and social care in Surrey.
  4. We have written to commissioners to put on record formally that we do not feel there has been an appropriate level of engagement and consultation and we have asked commissioners to extend the time period for genuine engagement.
  5. We have used our legal power to refer this issue to the Adults and Health Select Committee who are required to respond to us within 20 days.

The NHS constitution enshrines the right of people to be “…involved, directly or through representatives, in the planning of healthcare services commissioned by NHS bodies, the development and consideration of proposals for changes in the way those services are provided, and in decisions to be made affecting the operation of those services…”.

Good practice in engagement with the public would involve establishing views and concerns when proposals for change are at a formative stage; providing sufficient reasons for the change to permit “intelligent consideration”; giving adequate time for consideration and response, and taking feedback “conscientiously into account…”. These are called the Gunning Principles.

We are questioning, based on the evidence available to us, how the rights under the NHS constitution have been met and how the principles of genuine engagement have been followed.

We have put these points to the commissioners in the letters below and will be publishing their responses.

Healthwatch Surrey Letter 8 August 2017 to Helen Atkinson and Kate Shields

Healthwatch Surrey Letter 8 August 2017 to Ken Gulati

On 8th August, we also attended the Patient Information Session at St Peter’s Hospital. We have recorded the questions raised during the meeting and are putting these to the commissioners for their response. We will publish their responses here in due course.

If you have any further questions, concerns and experiences that you would like to share with us, please get in touch.