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NSUN promoting service user involvement
August 22nd 2012
Recession, benefit cuts and service reductions are badly affecting people with mental health conditions. But amongst the gloom there is also growing recognition that when we have control over our own lives, services and budgets and are given the chance to help each other better outcomes often result with improved recoveries and saved money.
Independent, service-user-led charity NSUN network for mental health promotes this kind of involvement to support better mental health. Nationally NSUN has done this by gaining positions on influential bodies including the DH (Department of Health) ministerial advisory group, the joint commissioning panel and the DH voluntary sector strategic partnership. We use this access to sign up agencies to meaningful service user involvement standards with a specific charter for involving black and minority ethnic people and another for those in forensic services. In June NSUN started DH funded work to establish national involvement standards, evaluation and monitoring and develop regional pilots.
With the new NHS and social care bodies created by the Health and Social Care Act being launched in April we are busy seeking to ensure that mental service users are listened to properly. So far this year we have sent evidence of the benefit of involving service users in commissioning to hundreds of local government councillors who will be involved in the new strategy setting Health and Wellbeing Boards. We have also sent that evidence to senior GPs who will be responsible for commissioning local health services and to scores of MPs. In support of this effort we have published articles on the Guardian website and in the specialist councillor and GP press.
Our members have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with commissioners and NSUN has a great story to tell those commissioners based on real experience. In Hackney the lead commissioner calls us ‘the go to organisation’ for co-production after we worked in partnership with local groups to build a mental health ‘people’s network’ to influence and eventually lead commissioning of services. The GP mental health lead for the area’s clinical commissioning group has endorsed this approach for the future as she has seen the potential impact on the quality of future services.
Another important new set of bodies created by the reforms will be the HealthWatch groups that will take over from LINks (Local Involvement Networks) in providing a voice and scrutiny for patients and service users. This October NSUN will launch Mental HealthWatch which aims to recruit service users in every part of England to share intelligence and information and ensure that mental health is well represented across the country.
NSUN is about peer support, self-management and making a positive difference. We hope Solution readers will join us for free at http://www.nsun.org.uk and together mental health can be better even in tough times.
This first appeared in The Solution Magazine.
Appointed individuals will be able to claim a fee of up to £175 + travel expenses for each day spent attending the NSUN sharing meetings in central London.
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