What matters to you? Amplifying the voices of our communities, patients and citizens

Anu Singh is one of three non-executive board members. Here she explains what the role entails and what it means for the people of south east London.

Anu SinghNon-executive board member
05 Jan 2023
leadership team
senior leaders

My particular background is social services, and more recently I’ve worked across the NHS to amplify the voices of our communities, our patients and our citizens, which is my passion.  I want to bring some of these different perspectives to the ICS, especially the perspectives of those for whom we know that we’re not quite getting it right.    What we currently have across health and social care is people not always having the experience that we would want, which is timely care at the right time for them and their families.  We want to solve this by working differently with our partners and our communities.

Another thing I am passionate about is getting right to the drivers of health – that’s where we live, our family networks, how connected we are, our solvency and how economically confident we are.  We need to be working with local business, with neighbourhoods and with local government to reach people and support them to live healthier and stronger lives.  One of the key challenges is that this is really hard to do, because we are busy ‘doing the doing’, and we actually need to take time to build new ways of working to investigate and invest in new approaches. Because of the complexity of what we’re trying to do, it’s going to be a challenge to try and keep performing at a high level and invest differently so tomorrow’s communities, tomorrow’s generations, will feel the benefits of us working differently.

What does success look like?

In Lambeth there is some amazing work being done with Black Thrive to try and understand how we can better support our black African communities with mental health issues. This involves investing in early intervention, peer support and connecting with the right community organisations and  partners to help make sure that the services we’re putting in place are the right kind of services. It’s an important piece of learning for us across the ICS because the more we understand about communities, the more we understand about what care should look like.

There has been a lot of evidence to show, especially in Lambeth, that these approaches are really making a difference. What we need to do now is learn from successful models like these and embed  these different ways of working across the ICS, to really start to address the needs that we know we haven’t been addressing.

There is also great work being done around ‘hospital at home’ and virtual wards, across some of our boroughs.  Being in hospital can feel quite invasive, it’s not great for your mental health, it can feel isolating, and it also impedes recovery.  We all know the best place for people is at home with their networks, where it’s familiar and they’re much more comfortable.  Putting in place an expanded offer for hospital at home across all of our six boroughs will be transformational for our communities, because it’s an offer that everybody will be able to engage with and benefit from, rather than just some of those hospitals or wards that are a bit more ahead of the game.

What matters to you?

Another thing I’m passionate about is co-delivery or co-creation of health, where people are the drivers of their own health. To really understand patient preference, we need to be pushing the flow of power back into the individual, and co-designing services with patients as partners. We should be asking how do we commission differently, how do we deliver differently as clinicians; do we have the right tools?

A clinician may be very confident they know what the right course of action is, but unless they have the right kind of tools to have conversations with patients, they won’t unlock what matters to them. The focus is on what is the matter with a patient, rather than thinking about what matters to them. ‘What matters to you’ is a phrase we often hear in social care, and I think it highlights a key difference in approach.  We need to be a bit more humble as a health and care system and focus on having these conversations rather than just treating what we think is the problem.