HEALTH chiefs have welcomed “phenomenal” improvement in patient and public involvement after assessment by national health bosses.

Last year, both East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Groups were deemed to require improvement.

But now NHS England has judged Blackburn with Darwen CCG to be good and East Lancashire CCG to be outstanding.

Joint chief officer Julie Higgins said: “I am delighted that following self-assessment and a process of assessment and validation by NHS England, Blackburn with Darwen achieved a rating of “good” in the annual Integrated Assessment Framework assessment of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) and East Lancashire achieved a rating of “outstanding”.

“This follows last year’s assessment where both CCGs, along with all other CCGs in Lancashire and South Cumbria were given a rating of “requires improvement”.

“Members may recall that we were not happy with this assessment and submitted a request for review, given the depth and breadth of engagement that the CCGs lead, and are involved in.

“However, the Communication and Engagement team used this as an opportunity to review processes, and approaches to engagement, and along with a root and branch review of engagement undertaken in the CCGs, implemented improvements to our approach.

“This has clearly paid off, and it is a phenomenal achievement to move from “requires improvement” to “good” and “outstanding”.

“To achieve “outstanding” BwD will need to undertake much more engagement, as well as engagement that translates into actionable change that can be evidenced. In addition, there is a need to adopt a more coproduction orientated approach and involve more patients in the working of the CCG and on projects at the planning stage.”

Dr Higgins added: "East Lancashire CCG has continued to undertake patient and public engagement around adult community services.

"This has included surveys of service users of treatment room services, palliative care, lower limb vascular and lymphedema services, as well as end of life and Intensive Home Support Service users.

"Reports of the findings and a “You Said, We did” matrix is being compiled.

"Significant engagement has been undertaken in primary care, in particular focusing on Daneshouse Surgery, Briercliffe and latterly, Slaidburn.

"A proposal and plan for ongoing dialogue in “community conversations” within each locality about what matters to people in their communities about health and health services has been developed.

"This builds on partnership work with Blackburn and Lancashire Healthwatch and will support planning in localities for future service redesign and development.

"The proposal, which will be signed off by senior managers and executive directors will represent a two pronged approach: firstly a look back at existing data and soft intelligence from surveys and engagement, and also allowing for continuous dialogue in each of our communities."