Maternity equity and equality strategy released

North east London has the highest birth rate in the UK and one of the fastest growing populations. When accessing and experiencing maternity services, we know there are health, social and economic inequities and inequalities, especially for women of Black, Asian and Mixed Ethnic backgrounds and those living in the most deprived areas.

North east London is the most ethnically diverse Integrated Care System (ICS) in the country, with 53% of our population identifying as from Black, Asian or Mixed ethnicity, compared with 11% across England overall.

Five of our Boroughs are in the 20 most deprived in England. 

We know there are improvements to be made to ensure pregnancy and birthing experiences for all our women and pregnant people are equitable, safe, personalised and culturally appropriate. When we get it right for our populations who experience the poorest outcomes, we’ll get it right for everyone. 

In November 2021, the North East London Local Maternity and Neonatal System (NEL LMNS) produced a needs assessment to look at the data and outcomes for women in our communities and identified a number of clinical outcomes and experiences that were poorer for certain communities than others. The needs assessment was produced in response to the equity and equality guidance for local maternity systems, and can be viewed here.  

In order to develop next steps, and look towards creating a strategy and action plan to improve equity and equality for pregnant women, extensive engagement was undertaken by Healthwatch and Maternity Mates. Using surveys, interviews and focus groups with maternity service users, their families, advocates and maternity staff, we gathered over 1000 responses to understand the experiences and expectations of the women in our care.

From our engagement, key themes were identified focussed on; engagement, communication, information sharing and consent. It was evident that some difficult experiences and poor outcomes could have been different with more accessible information, stronger communication, greater cultural awareness and a trauma informed approach.

Bringing an equity lens to all our work, specifically for those from Black, Asian and Mixed ethnic backgrounds and those living in the most deprived areas, will mean:

  • We ensure we understand, and adapt our practice, to meet the cultural and social needs of all the pregnant women we care for.
  • We ensure we communicate with pregnant women and their families in a way that is accessible, transparent and kind.
  • We ensure we develop a culture of trauma informed care to better inform our practice and provide more positive experiences for pregnant women and staff.
  • We ensure we support the health and wellbeing of our staff by providing the resources and tools they need to care for their pregnant women. 

Our strategy and action plan has been worked on collaboratively with maternity staff, public health colleagues, Healthwatch and Maternity Voices Partnership Chairs. It describes our commitment to listen and work with our maternity service users and their advocates, to improve services and experiences that better meet the needs of those who use them, putting an equity lens on all we do and establishing different ways of working to ensure everyone receives safe and personalised care.

The action plan will provide direction for the maternity units in north east London, acknowledging our communities have different needs, and each maternity unit will need to develop a localised plan to fulfil these.

The full report can be viewed here, with a summary version also available that can be viewed here.  

Listening to the views of residents on the Long Covid pathway

Healthwatch Havering, Barking & Dagenham and Redbridge have published their report on the experiences of service users on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Long Covid pathway.

The report was produced in collaboration with the Long Covid Clinic at King George Hospital (jointly managed between Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospital NHS trust (BHRUT) and North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT)) and with primary care and community stakeholders within NHS North East London. It can be accessed here.

The aim of the report was to articulate and present Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham and Havering community patient voice in shaping and developing services in this new clinical area. Feedback was collected via surveys, interviews and focus groups with service users, GPs and service leaders.

Dr Adam Ainley, Consultant Respiratory Physician and Clinical Lead for the BHRUT Long Covid clinic, commented: “The partnership between Healthwatch and members of the BHRUT/NELFT Long Covid service has been useful in exploring patient experience and in particular, access to support. We have been able to respond to challenges evident from the data to undertake steps to increase awareness of our specialist clinic at King George and by working with stakeholders to simplify the referral process. It has been good to see an increased visibility of the clinic during the time the data was collected and an increase in the number of patients getting support.”

Construction work begins on new health and wellbeing hub in Havering

Construction work is under way on a new health and wellbeing centre in Hornchurch.

A ground-breaking ceremony took place today (Friday 2 December) to mark the official start of building work for the St George’s Health and Wellbeing Hub, off Sutton’s Lane.

It comes after the Government granted final approval for the scheme, which will bring together a range of health, social care and community services within brand-new, purpose-built premises serving people across Havering and its neighbouring boroughs.

Health and care partners across north east London have been working together for a number of years to design the hub, on the site of the old St George’s Hospital.

Contractors have spent the last few weeks clearing the site, and today representatives from project partners were joined at the official ground-breaking ceremony by senior staff from McLaren Construction Group which is undertaking the building work.

Zina Etheridge, Chief Executive Officer at North East London Health and Care Partnership, said: “Today’s event marks another key milestone for the project – we’re absolutely thrilled that work can finally get under way on this fantastic new health centre after years of planning and consultation with local people.

“Providing a range of health and care services in one place, right in the heart of the community, will make an enormous difference to so many people’s lives both now and in the future.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “It’s brilliant to see shovels hitting the ground for the new St George’s Health and Wellbeing Hub, backed by £17 million of government funding as part of our plans to upgrade over 70 hospitals across the country.

“This successful partnership with health and care providers and the voluntary sector will offer a one stop shop to improve both physical and mental wellbeing for local people in North East London – from early diagnostic services for cancer, to mental health support and spaces for community groups to meet.”

Jacqui Van Rossum, Acting Chief Executive of North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT), said: “Today we’re marking the beginning of this exciting development which will ultimately provide greater access to healthcare services to our Havering and neighbouring borough communities.

“As we work together in partnership with health and care providers and the voluntary sector, we will be focused on improving the health and wellbeing of our local population. We’re looking forward to opening the doors of St George’s Health Wellbeing to deliver care – when and where people need it most.”

Councillor Ray Morgon, Leader of Havering Council, said: “This is an exciting and much anticipated day for local residents and the borough. The building of a new health and wellbeing hub will bring together some additional first class facilities for this part of the borough. It means many residents who currently have to travel to different parts of Havering for their health needs will now have them on their doorstep.”

Shane DeGaris, Group Chief Executive Officer at Barts Health NHS Trust and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I’m delighted that construction of this hub has started today. It will help us to provide vital services and better care for all communities across north east London.”

Richard Eager, Head of Healthcare at McLaren, said: “High quality care and health facilities are vital in helping communities thrive.

“Our experienced team is at the heart of creating critical facilities and helping people in the greatest need, by delivering St George’s Health and Wellbeing Hub in Havering. Having completed the site clearing, we’re now ready to begin construction work on this transformational healthcare project.”

St George’s Health and Wellbeing Hub is scheduled for completion by March 2024. Once open, it will give people easy access to a range of primary care, mental health and prevention services, along with some early diagnostic services for cancer.

The site will also include provision for local voluntary and community groups, with facilities such as a community café, multi-purpose education and meeting spaces, as well as a sensory, dementia-friendly communal garden.

More information on the project is available on the NHS NELFT Foundation Trust website.

Air pollution resources to support children with asthma living in north east London

In the UK every year, air pollution causes 20,200 respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions and up to 36,000 deaths. Air pollution can be damaging to everyone’s health, especially for children with asthma.

All north east London Boroughs are named air quality management areas, meaning they have high levels of air pollution. Out of the 10 places in the UK with the highest number of deaths related to air pollution, 7 of those are in north east London.

NHS North East London, together with Global Action Plan, have designed resources and training to provide GPs and health professionals with the tools to talk to families about the impacts of air pollution and support children with respiratory conditions to help reduce their exposure to air pollution.

Led by Air Quality Clinical Lead for NHS North East London, Dr Rachel Parker, the work has been supported by asthma Clinical Nurse Specialists in all our place-based partnerships, and the North East London Children and Young People Asthma Clinical Network.

“Understanding the impacts of air pollution on health is so important to everyone living in north east London, but particularly for children with asthma. Studies have shown that air pollution can play a part in causing asthma for some children, and for those who already have asthma, being exposed to more air pollution can increase the frequency and the severity of their chronic asthma symptoms.

Sadly, over the last few years we have seen a number of asthma related deaths involving children in our communities, one of them being directly related to air pollution exposure.

Being able to provide resources and information to asthma nurses, GPs, health professionals and those working in schools means we can all play a part in ensuring children and families understand the impacts air pollution has on their health, and what simple steps they can take to help” says Dr Parker. 

The resources have been co-designed with local children, families and health professionals and are available on our air pollution webpage

Engaging on cancer signs and symptoms with older males in deprived areas through sport

North East London Cancer Alliance has been working for the last few months with Leyton Orient Football Club to reach out to older males who traditionally do not come forward with signs and symptoms of cancer, as part of their ‘It’s not a game’ campaign. 

This included attending a health awareness day at a home game for Leyton Orient FC on 29 October. Throughout the day, we spoke to a number of local residents to highlight the importance of getting checked if you have signs or symptoms of cancer, as well as handing out leaflets with essential cancer information on. 

Best For My Chest: a unique breast screening campaign in north east London for the LGBTIQ+ community

North East London Cancer Alliance, in partnership with leading LGBTIQ+ cancer charity Live Through This, has successfully launched a new awareness campaign for breast screening which is designed to speak specifically to the LGBTIQ+ community. 

The ‘Best For My Chest’ campaign aims to overcome fears and barriers the community is facing, encouraging more people to come forward for breast screening which will help save many lives.  

Read more about the campaign on the North East London Cancer Alliance website.

Projects to improve diabetes care in north east London win national awards

Work to improve diabetes care in north east London has won national recognition.

The dedication and collaborative work of NHS teams was praised as two local projects were named among the winners at the 2022 Quality in Care (QiC) Awards.

The annual QiC Awards seek to recognise and reward innovative and high quality practice in diabetes care and the winners are recognised by patients and health professionals as improving the quality of life for people living with diabetes and their families.

The two north east London (NEL) winners were:

  • The North East London Type 1 Diabetes Transformation (NATALIE) won the Patient Care Pathway category. The project (a collaboration by NHS North East London, Barts Health NHS Trust, Homerton University Hospital and the Clinical Effectiveness Group at Queen Mary University of London) saw a toolkit developed for GP practices, along with a high-risk register and an app for patients, to ensure people with type 1 diabetes have equal access to care across NEL. The judges said: “We were pleased to see the impact the app made when it was used. In addition to this, we noted the excellent focus on innovation, diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
  • Work to support people with recurrent diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) by Barts Health and East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) won the Wellbeing category. DKA is a serious complication resulting from diabetes which can be fatal if not treated, and there is an established link between the condition and mental health struggles. Since April 2019, weekly screening of new patients and focused mental health support for those at high risk of DKA has led to a 20% fall in hospital admissions and a 50% reduction in bed days. The judges praised the trusts’ work in assessing and tailoring care around patients’ needs, saying: “It had strong feedback and is clearly a very valuable project”

Dr Christopher Garrett, consultant in diabetes psychiatry at Barts Health and ELFT, said: “We’re delighted to win these awards – they’re recognition of the innovative and ground-breaking collaborative work partners are doing to improve support and treatment for people living with diabetes across north east London.

“As the judges acknowledged, both of these projects have made, and are continuing to make, a significant contribution to improving the quality of life of diabetes patients and their families. Our aim to build on this work and deliver further improvements in care.”

Work to diagnose and support people with diabetes is being highlighted today (Monday 14 November) as part of World Diabetes Day, organised by Diabetes UK. For more information on managing diabetes, visit the North East London Health and Care Partnership website.

National recognition for NHS North East London Leader

Marie Gabriel CBE, chair of the North East London Integrated Care Board, has been named in the Health Services Journal’s (HSJ) annual list of the 50 most influential Black, Asian and minority ethnic health leaders for her contribution to the NHS.

Sponsored by the NHS Race and Health Observatory, the HSJ list recognises the 50 Black, Asian and minority ethnic figures who will exercise the most power and/or influence in NHS and health policy over the next 12 months.

Speaking about her recognition, Marie said: “I am proud to be recognised amongst such incredible people who are really making a difference in the NHS.

“My commitment to advancing health equity and tackling structural racism are constants throughout my career and I am proud that in north east London we have committed to being an anti-racist ICS, working with our people, communities and partners to actively address unequal access, outcomes and employment experiences.”

Marie, who was awarded a CBE in 2018 for services to the NHS, has two decades’ experience at board level in the NHS, education and the voluntary sector and is the first chair of the NHS Race and Health Observatory as well as chair of North East London Integrated Care Board, co-chair of the London People Board and a member of the Mayor of London’s Health Board – making her one of the leading NHS figures in London. 

Results from the Under 16 Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2021

The Under 16 Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2021 results are now available and show the consistently high levels of care young cancer patients receive. Cancer care providers will analyse these results in detail to learn where they could do even better.  

Key results show: 

  • 9.01 out of 10 was the average parent/carer rating of the overall experience of their child’s care  
  • 89% of parents/carers rated the overall experience of their child’s care as 8 or more out of 10. 

Join a webinar at 1pm on 8 December to unpick the results in more detail. This will help NHS teams, providers, charities, commissioners and the public to understand the results and identify areas for action. Book now: https://bit.ly/3zQTLq3 

Read more about the results on the North East London Cancer Alliance’s webpage

Have your say about a proposed new Moorfields Eye Hospital hub in Stratford

Moorfields Eye Hospital is planning to provide additional eye care at a new site in Stratford from Spring 2023. It is proposed that this new hub will be on Stratford Broadway (Granta House, 15-19 Broadway, London E15 4BQ), close to Stratford’s shops, services and excellent transport links. Moorfields want to hear the public’s views on their proposal to move to Stratford by 25 November 2022 – see below for details of how to provide feedback.

This new hub would bring together in one place a range of eye services for the local community including glaucoma, medical retina and cataracts, a specialist pharmacy, diagnostics, face to face and surgical treatments. The significant increase in capacity would help reduce eye care waiting lists across north east London trusts, as well as being more convenient for the majority of patients, many of whom currently need to visit different sites (one of which is in north central London). 

Bringing everything together in one central place enables more comprehensive support services. All the activity from two existing nearby sites, Mile End and the existing Stratford clinic at Sir Ludwig Guttmann would be transferred to the new Stratford hub. The existing site at Barking would become a centre offering diagnostic tests for eyes, jointly operated by Moorfields; Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals; and Barts Health. All face to face eye clinics provided at Barking would relocate to the new Stratford facility. More information can be found at www.moorfields.nhs.uk/site/moorfields-stratford

Have your say about the proposed new hub

Moorfields would very much like to hear from the public, and particularly patients at Mile End, Sir Ludwig Guttman and Barking Community Hospital about what they think of this proposal to move to the Stratford hub. Please complete this short survey before 5pm on Friday 25 November 2022.

There are events where Moorfields will explain more about the proposals and give people a chance to ask questions. These are at:

Moorfields is also providing opportunities for people to ask questions about the proposed move through staffed stands at current sites with leaflets and information about the hub. There is also a dedicated group open to all patients. Please email khaled.hassan@nhs.net for details.

For help, further information or to receive the leaflet or questionnaire in a more accessible format, including braille, please email moorfields.stratfordviews@nhs.net