Mental health funding, patient referral times and the problem of so-called “bed-blockers” were all issues raised at an NHS public meeting this afternoon.

The Annual General Meeting is a once-a-year chance for members of the public to quiz the board of Wandsworth’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - which decides how to spend the borough's estimated £410m health budget.

Wandsworth Times:

How was Wandsworth's health budget divvied up in 2014-15? Source: Wandsworth NHS CCG

Just over 25 minutes were devoted to the question and answer session, with a 35 minute presentation from board members and a one-and-a-half hour slot of mingling time in the CCG’s Putney office “marketplace”.

Service users who questioned health bosses at the meeting included Greta Adedeaji, whose 30-year-old son with complex needs has waited more than 10 months for a successful referral from Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton to St George’s Hospital in Tooting.

Dr Nicola Jones, the CCG’s clinical chairwoman, admitted that “there might be several places” in the referral system where something has “gone wrong” and asked for the details to be passed directly to the CCG so they could review the cause of the delay.

Dermot Cremin, 55, a member of a local clinical group from Roehampton, said he was concerned elderly people disrespectfully dubbed “bed blockers” for staying in hospital after treatment were not getting enough support to safely move home.

Lucie Waters, the CCG’s director of commissioning and planning, said: “I also think it’s apallling that people use the term bed blockers.”

But she said the CCG was working on developing GP-led care plans for the elderly who don’t need acute medical care and would prefer to be treated at home.

She also said GPs offer both medical and “rapid response” social care referrals for elderly patients as a preventative measure so they don’t need to go to hospital.

Another service user, who was not named, asked why mental health funding was not higher.

Dr Jones recognised that NHS spending on mental health treatment across the country had historically been too low, but she said Wandsworth’s budget for mental health services had risen in the last year and was considerably higher than the minimum proportion set by Government.

Speaking after the meeting, Joan Robinson from Balham, applauded the CCG’s achievements and collaboration with grassroots community groups.

But she said she was disappointed that less than half an hour was devoted to answering questions from the public.

None of the questions submitted by email before the meeting were answered during the live-streamed session.

But Graham Mackenzie, the CCG’s chief officer, said everyone who had submitted a question would receive a written response.

Members of the public can sit in on the CCG’s board meetings, which take place about 10 times a year at Wandsworth Town Hall.

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