Last Thursday the Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board met in Horsham. It was particularly heartening to see quite a few people in the audience observing the meeting.
In West Sussex we have three Clinical Commissioning Groups who will be providing health care across the county from April, and each presented their draft commissioning plans for the year ahead, which they have all been working hard on, to the Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board for final sign off.
We also had a very useful and informative presentation from the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) who talked about end of life care. Whilst I accept that this is not the easiest issue to discuss, in principle everyone wants a good death. Whether that happens depends on many things, including our own personal wishes and making them known.
Being able to discuss and having some really helpful literature is very much down to the NCPC raising awareness through their Dying Matters Campaign, which I support and I very much hope that the County Council will be involved in the Dying Matters Awareness Week this coming May.
The presentation provided a useful platform where the Doctors from the Clinical Commissioning Groups were able to speak about the importance about end of life care and how this will be embedded in their plans, but also for the Health and Wellbeing Board to co-ordinate a strategy.
Without Health and Wellbeing Boards there would be no other way to learn what all our West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups think about such important matters, or how they are integrating them into their plans.
We have many providers such as hospices, Macmillan, and Marie Curie, to name but a few, in the county who are committed to working with patients who are at the end of their life. The work they do is tremendous as is the support they receive from the communities either as volunteers or fundraising. They have a really important role to play, but they can be even more effective if we learn to be more comfortable in talking about such matters.
If this has sparked an interest in you please do look at the website http://www.ncpc.org.uk/.
To find out more about the work of the Shadow Health and Wellbeing Board, click here.