Camden begins first Citizens’ Assembly to improve healthcare locally

The Council are holding the borough’s first ever Citizens’ Assembly to look at the future of healthcare and wellbeing in Camden.

Held over five sessions, the first of which took place last Saturday (29 February), the Citizens’ Assembly will bring together residents, GPs, hospitals and the Council to find ways to make Camden the best place to live and grow now and in the future.

Building on the success of the UK’s first Camden climate crisis Citizens’ Assembly that took place last year, the Assembly on health and care will provide an opportunity for residents to get involved to help shape the future of health and social care in the borough.

The Assembly is made up of around fifty residents who will participate in a series of events to discuss their top ambitions for health and care services in the borough, before attending a final meeting in June to agree their recommendations.

All recommendations will then be made to the Council and local NHS organisations to develop the Camden joint health and wellbeing strategy, which will act as a framework for care services in the borough over the next few years.

Saturday’s session opened with speeches from guests including Leader of the Council, Councillor Georgia Gould and experts from the Royal Free, UCLH, Healthwatch Camden, Voluntary Action Camden, Camden Clinical Commissioning Group, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. The speakers discussed their roles in health and care in the Borough and highlighted the importance of the Assembly.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Georgia Gould and chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board opened the speeches by talking about the importance of involving residents in decision making. She said: “Citizens’ Assemblies are an opportunity to get the expertise of our citizens – your experiences and your community’s experiences. We’ll hear from lots of people who are working in the health and care system but the real expertise we want is from you.”

Ben Morrin, Director of Workforce at UCLH said: “We’re really looking forward to working with you to think about how we can make what we do even more effective in terms of health and care and the outcomes that we achieve together with partners.”

Graeme Caul, Divisional Director at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust said: “We run great services in Camden but we can do better […] I’m interested in how can we deliver services differently in the future to meet the needs of the population of Camden and how can work better and smarter to help more people.”

The Assembly members then had the opportunity to share their experiences of health and care in Camden and take part in a Q&A with the speakers. In the afternoon the Assembly worked in groups to start deciding on what the priorities should be. The Assembly discussed a variety of ideas including:

  • Tackling health inequalities in the borough by making sure services were tailored to the specific needs of the community.
  • Making sure health and care services are properly equipped to meet the needs of people with protected characteristics such as deaf, LGBT+ and BAME groups.
  • Ensuring services interact with each other and work together for the benefit of local people.

Assembly member, Nadia Mahri said: "It's really important to find out the issues Camden residents are having. I can’t wait for the end result and to see what the most important issues are and how we can overcome them.”

Assembly member, Charles Okigbo said: "I came here to make a contribution and also to learn from other people. I'm finding it interesting taking part. It's good to have different people coming together with their varied experience and I hope that the contributions we've made will be heard."

Assembly members will decide on their final priorities as the process progresses.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Georgia Gould and chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board said: “We put residents’ health and wellbeing at the heart of everything we do and by working closely with our communities and healthcare professionals, we can develop a joint approach to improve healthcare for everyone in the borough now and for future generations living in Camden. This Assembly provides us with a fantastic opportunity to hear what matters most to our residents which will all be fed into our framework to improve care services across Camden.”

Chair of Camden CCG, Dr Neel Gupta said: “The NHS is about to enter a period of significant transition as we move towards greater integration and collaboration with a much greater focus on preventing ill health and maximising wellbeing. The Assembly is critical to help us gauge the diversity of views within Camden and to identify preventative interventions that will help keep people well and leading fulfilling lives.”

An expert panel made up of local and national NHS professionals, think tanks and Council health staff will support the Assembly to inform local health and care leaders.

Camden’s Full Council and Health and Wellbeing Board will also hear the recommendations of the Assembly.

For more information head to camden.gov.uk/health-and-care-citizens-assembly