This consultation gave us an opportunity to highlight the historical issues Healthwatch Birmingham has often raised about the positioning of West Birmingham. Consequently, the problems this presents for governance, planning and day-to-day tasks.
We noted that the proposed merger has the potential to improve joint commissioning, maximise partnership working and ensure a single commissioning vision and voice. We however felt that the following issues still needed to be addressed:
- Real change in how the merged CCGs work with Birmingham structures (e.g. the Health and Wellbeing Board) to ensure that the needs of West Birmingham residents are equally considered in decision-making.
- The development of a strategy for involving patients, the public and service users in decision-making. Ensuring that service users, the public and carer’s insight and experience be collected to not only identify barriers to improved health outcomes but also to identify and understand health inequality.
- Partnership working with Birmingham and Solihull CCG, and Birmingham City Council to ensure that on a service delivery level, services are parable across Birmingham.
- An audit of commissioning arrangements to ensure that access to services is fair and equitable.
In their written response, the CCG recognised the concerns we had raised in our consultation response. Recognising the following:
- The issues concerning the historical treatment of West Birmingham in the wider system and that sometimes there has been insufficient focus of the local population. It was noted that the strong place-based approach to be taken by the merged CCG will resolve some of the issues and help establish West Birmingham as a key place within the merged CCG and the Birmingham local authority area.
- The need for auditing the current commissioning arrangements for West Birmingham –this work has already commenced with an initial review completed by end of October.
- The outcomes to be shared with HWB and a discussion to be held between the CCG and HWB on the likely impact of the current arrangements on local people’s experience of care.
On 15th October a meeting was held between HWB’s CEO and the Managing Director of West Birmingham Black Country and West Birmingham CCGs. Key to the discussions was how HWB can support the merged CCG in developing its engagement strategy using the Quality Standard. Healthwatch Birmingham has also been invited to have a seat on the newly forming West Birmingham Commissioning Board which will hold responsibility for approving the West Birmingham Place Based Plan and associated investment priorities.