In February 2017 we released our report: An evaluation of Mental Health Peer Support groups across Buckinghamshire. In June we received the following response from the Clinical Commissioning Group.
“The Buckinghamshire NHS clinical commissioning groups – the GP-led organisations that plan and pay for local health services – welcome this Healthwatch Bucks report. We are extremely supportive of peer support groups across the county and we have been meeting with voluntary sector organisations to look at the services that are provided and how we can work together to raise awareness of how people access them.
We are also exploring with the voluntary sector and Oxford Health Foundation Trust how peer support could be further developed across the county with the CCGs dedicated to the delivery of an holistic, patient-centered mental health service which has seen increased investment in 2017.
Access to peer support in Buckinghamshire has been enhanced by:
- The Buckinghamshire Recovery College has been launched by Oxford Health Foundation Trust (OHFT), based at the Whiteleaf Centre in Aylesbury it is a supportive environment whereby people are able to learn more about their condition, interact with peers and share experiences therefore breeding a peer support culture.
- The CCGs mental health provider OHFT have commissioned Bucks Mind to produce a mental health directory that will be available for people to view electronically or in physical format, it will showcase (amongst other services) peer support groups across the county and how and where people can access them.
- Bucks Mind workers are now integrated into the community mental health teams to provide information and guidance to service users and are able to signpost people to peer support groups as appropriate
Ongoing plans to support the development and awareness of peer support include:
- The CCG have supported local bids to explore how peer support could be further developed across the county and are continuing to work in collaboration with voluntary sector partners to explore alternative funding streams.
- The CCG will continue to work in partnership with OHFT in 17/18 to ensure that people are robustly informed of the complementary services that are available to them as appropriate to their individual needs.
- The CCG are working with Oxford Health Foundation Trust to review referral processes and communication routes with referrers. It is anticipated that this work, which will be developed through the next few months, alongside the Bucks Mind workers in the Community MH teams will facilitate improved access to the right services for people in need of support for their mental health.
The response provides insight into some of the good work being done across the county and supports the principle of peer support. We hope that moving forward the CCG will continue to look at options to resource peer support.