Patients given a say on estate’s health services

Oxford Mail: Kimberly Walton-Twist, with her two-and-a-half year old daughter Matilda, has raised issues about parking and appointments Kimberly Walton-Twist, with her two-and-a-half year old daughter Matilda, has raised issues about parking and appointments

PATIENTS in the Leys will once again have a way to influence public health and care on the estate.

Oxford City Council has restarted the Leys Health and Wellbeing Theme Group after it closed down for six months because of a staffing shortage.

But now the group is beginning again after the council was able to reorganise staff and their responsibilities.

The project aims to promote healthier lifestyles, preventing illnesses as a result, and creating a more efficient and effective health service for residents.

It will work with residents and health organisations – such as Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre, Oxfordshire MIND and the Leys Community Market – to develop a health and wellbeing plan to address issues raised by residents.

It is part of the Leys Community Plan, led by the council, which aims to improve health and mental wellbeing on the estate.

As well as the theme group, the plan will see an increase in pharmacy campaigns and health check and screening programmes to make sure people stay healthy.

Council spokesman Chris Lee said: “The theme group is an opportunity for service providers and residents to work together to identify local priorities and objectives and the most effective means of meeting those.

“The first big challenge is getting residents involved. All are welcome to attend and are encouraged to actively participate in the meeting itself and in doing so contribute to the objectives of the Leys Community Plan.”

It is not the only opportunity Leys patients have to share their views.

The Leys Health Centre, in Dunnock Way, runs the Leys Patient Participation Group (PPG), which has more than 200 patients sharing views on improvimg the practice.

The Leys PPG was launched in November 2011 and allows patients to give electronic feedback to GPs about their healthcare.

Feedback from the PPG has led to more late-afternoon appointments, the introduction of a minor illness nurse and wheelchairs to help people enter the practice.

As well as email, it is beginning to expand and has started face-to-face meetings.

Leys Health Centre practice manager Susan Renn said: “It’s still very embryonic at the moment, mainly done by email. We’re in the process of expanding it and running meetings with the patients.

“We have worked very hard to develop the PPG and the practice sincerely thank all the patients for their commitment, time and effort to make this happen.”

PPG member Kimberly Walton-Twist, from Blackbird Leys, said: “They just send out surveys through email every quarter, which I fill in, no problem.

“My biggest issues have been parking outside the centre and also how difficult it can be to get an appointment with them.

“They have started inviting me to meetings but they’re never at a time that’s convenient. It’s hard to do things in the evenings.”

The 32-year-old mobile hairdresser added: “I’ve never felt passionately enough about an issue to really go, but it’s good that we can.”

The Leys Health and Wellbeing Theme Group will recommence on Monday at 2pm in the Jack Argent Room at the Blackbird Leys Community Centre, Blackbird Leys Road.

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