Families across Bath and North East Somerset are being asked to help shape the future of local NHS services supporting the hundreds of children who have learning disabilities and autism across the area.
More than 800 children are recorded as living with moderate to severe learning disabilities in Bath and North East Somerset, and over 400 children have autism, according to NHS figures.
Local families are being sought to share their views on the NHS services supporting autistic people and people with learning disabilities across the area.
Independent health and care champion Healthwatch Bath and North East Somerset has launched ‘What would you do?’ to encourage people in B&NES to share their views about what changes to local NHS services should look like.
The Government has developed a ten year plan for the NHS, covering the whole of England. Local organisations have now been asked to work out what changes will be made to ensure the NHS is better for people in the area.
The NHS Long Term Plan outlines how the NHS will support autistic people or those with a learning disability to live healthier, happier lives.
Areas of focus include more investment in training, undergraduate degree places, supported internships to provide better employment opportunities.
The NHS also wants services to be more accessible for autistic people or those with a learning disability.
This will start in specialist schools, where the NHS will run hearing, sight and dental checks, that might have been hard to access in other community settings.
Later in life, people will also be offered annual check-ups and wellbeing services, such as support in quitting smoking.
It’s also proposed to allocate a key support worker to every autistic child and young person with a learning disability by 2024.
This will be supported by all patients having more detailed records, with a ‘digital flag’ highlighting their condition or learning disability to NHS staff.
Alex Francis, Healthwatch Bath and North East Somereset Manager, said: “There’s a significant number of children in local schools with learning disabilities or who are autistic.
“We want to know how the NHS can help improve the support and services it provides to these children and their families. We want to hear from parents, relatives, carers or community groups about their own personal experiences and find out what could be improved.
“No matter how big or small the issue, we want to hear about it. Sharing your experience with us is quick and easy – and could make a big difference.”
Healthwatch Bath and North East Somerset is also keen to hear from people about a range of other health services which support people with conditions such as mental health, cancer, heart and lung disease and dementia.
People can also have their say on how the NHS can help people live healthier lives through prevention and how people can take more control over their health.
Staff and volunteers will be at a selection venues in April to find out what people think.
People can also share their views in an online survey, which closes at the end of April: https://www.healthwatch.co.uk/what-would-you-do.
For more details on ‘What Would You Do?’ visit: www.healthwatch.co.uk/what-would-you-do.