Building a partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board

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Back in 2014, Aber SU council passed a policy which stated a vote of no confidence in Hywel Dda University Health Board, on the grounds that not enough was being done to support students in accessing the local health services. Until now, nothing had been done to work in partnership with Hywel Dda in order to restore confidence. This year, Lauren and I have been working closely with senior members of the health board in order to seek improvement in the way in which students access local health services. We’re happy to say that, at our most recent student council, a new policy passed on building a positive partnership with Hywel Dda, which in turn lifted the policy of no confidence.

A factor which influenced a new confidence in Hywel Dda came back in February 2017, when CEO Steve Moore, along with other senior staff, came to visit Aber SU in order to host a forum with students; where students had the opportunity to openly discuss their experiences with the local health services. Please find below an account of the discussion that was had at this forum.

Based upon the following discussion and after many positive meetings with the health board, I have confidence that they are doing everything in their power to ensure that the demand of services is being met, particularly in such a challenging time where resources are low. Aber SU officers will continue to work in close partnership with the Board to ensure that student voice and representation is continuously involved in the development of future services.

Forum with Hywel Dda University Health Board

Friday 17th February 2017

2-4pm, Aber SU Picturehouse

Representatives of Hywel Dda University Health Board present:  Steve Moore – CEO (SM); Peter Skitt - County Director and Commissioner for Ceredigion (PS); Julie Denley - Interim Director Mental Health and Learning Disabilities (JD); Bleddyn Lewis – Team Manager for Mental Health for Ceredigion (BL); Matthew Willis - Head of Service Development and Integration for Ceredigion (MW).

Aber SU/University staff present: Naomi Cutler – Students’ Union Welfare Officer (NC); Christopher Parry – Students’ Union Campaigns and Democracy Co-ordinator (CP); Caryl Davies – Director of Student Support Services (CD).

Questions and discussion

Jordan Kraus-Harvey (JKH) - Some students have expressed dissatisfaction with GPs, feeling they’re not taken seriously, or their status as a student holds them back. What are your thoughts?

Steve Moore (SM) –  We have had discussions with Naomi and Lauren and we believe that all residents are patients of Hywel Dda Health Board (HDHB). We can organise meetings with Practices to express concerns, however you must understand that primary care is under pressure and we are trying to hire more GPs and other clinical practitioners.

Julie Denley (JD) – We’re also having discussions with GPs about further training and education about mental health, and would like to continue working together for Time to Change Wales.

Peter Skitt (PS) – We are looking at GP services and treatment of individuals within the GP cluster.

JKH – I’m Vice-President of student minds where we hear lots of students couldn’t get help from GPs or AU Student Support Services, being turned away and seeking support from peers instead.

JD – There are lots of complicated systems, new staff and several other issues. We have been looking internationally at best practice and we’re going to hold a consultation on a new model in May. We will be proposing 4 mental health centres (of which 3 will be 24hrs) in the following locations: Aberystwyth, Pembrokeshire, Llanelli and Carmarthen. 

There will be walk-in services, with all mental health care in one place in an effort to be the most helpful.

•         They will have beds

•         It will be a place for safety

•         We will work with Dyfed Powys Police

•         It will act as a Mental Health A+E

Matthew Willis (MW) – We will be looking to implement a long term and sustainable service.

JD – We have also considered available transport and have lots of creative ways to make it accessible to those who may have to travel further to access the services.

Ross Paton (RP) – Aberystwyth’s Sexual Health Clinic has turned away up to 100 people, what is happening?

MW – It’s not good enough. We’re looking to move it up close to the university although we will have to keep the service open to everyone (not just students). We would also be looking to extend the service to 7 days, not 3. We are in the process of progressing plans, pending finances.

JKH – Is there going to be any access to Self-Care resources?

Bleddyn Lewis (BL) – Our mental health staff will be starting to work with other staff within the NHS, from receptionists to GPs to improve:

·         Interventions/Courses/Advice

·         Attend Students’ Union and Aberystwyth University events such as Fresher’s

·         Creating an easier referral process

JD - We will be offering more, high quality, online resources – bilingual and available for students, staff and anyone else to refer to. These resources will go live during Mental Health Awareness Week.

Naomi Cutler (NC) – We’ve had a lot of issues with the Wellness Centre sending students to their GP, and the GP sending students back to the Wellness Centre.

PS – Maybe we could have a joint meeting about this?

Caryl Davies (CD) – These issues may be due to staff turnover and illness. We do need smarter forums and meetings.

PS – Has anyone had any dental issues?

Room – Yes, examples include not taking new patients (private or NHS) and lack of emergency services.

PS – I ask as we’re also looking at emergency dental issues and will firmly be on the Agenda on behalf of students.

SM – emergency services should be available within 48 hours so we will need to look at that.

Michelle Das – Do you have policies on Diversity?

SM – We do, and we are a very diverse workforce – however there is always more we can do!

Chris Parry (CP) – How involved/aware of the Gender Identity Clinic Consultation are you?

JD – We would be looking into:

·         Mental Health Assessment

·         The increase in demand and younger people

·         What is established

·         Ongoing work

We worry about travel and availability, balancing population sizes with costs. We really don’t want unnecessary travel or waiting.

RP – Could we involve mental health services in Fresher’s etc.?

NC – Church Surgery and Padarn Surgery come to Fresher’s to ‘recruit’.

SM – We consider demand vs time and have to be careful with resources too. I think we should be building better relationships.

PS - We could provide more feedback opportunities as well as opportunities for representation.

JKH – Are you aware of mistakes happening and patients receiving incorrect prescriptions?

PS – We have over 6 million contacts with patients a year – mistakes will inevitably happen. Learning from the mistakes is the important thing – so make sure to report it back.

SM – Pharmacy is becoming more involved in primary care too and we will maintain an overview of the situation.

BL – Did you feel you had a fair hearing/feedback?

JKH – I wouldn’t know how to go about resolving the issue.

SM – Please feel free to send me an email and we will work to resolve this.

RP – Any way to feedback should be easy and accessible.

PS – This isn’t an issue isolated to students, and we need an overall smoother operation. We should generally work together, going through a complaints system and avoiding negative press.

MW – You should feel empowered to return to your GP if something goes wrong.

SM – We welcome any additional feedback.

PS – We are also working closely with the Welfare Team.

NC – Aber SU passed a vote of no confidence in Hywel Dda Health Board, based on this forum and the meetings that your student officers have been having with senior staff. Do you feel that we can begin to restore confidence in the health board?

  • Positive responses followed this question.


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