Public views help reshape health services in Tower Hamlets

Over one thousand people in Tower Hamlets have had their say on plans to reshape health services in the borough.

Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has drawn up transformation plans which set out proposed changes to local primary and urgent care services.

As part of this process, people were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the proposed changes outlined and the reasoning for their responses.

The primary care transformation proposed changes focused on:

  • giving patients the choice of accessing other GP practices in Tower Hamlets for appointments that may better suit them
  • having a standardised booking system which could be one website or phone number
  • ensuring everyone in Tower Hamlets is able to access the same support, information and services regardless of where they live or are registered in the borough.

The urgent care transformation proposed changes that focused on:

  • having a primary care led service at Royal London Hospital
  • opening the urgent care centre at the Royal London Hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • allowing the urgent care centre to use more hospital equipment
  • ensuring there is more access to specialist clinicians through the NHS 111 service.

After an initial 10-month period of engagement and co-design with members of the Tower Hamlets community, a wider public engagement period began on 1 October 2016 and ended on 13 November 2016.

Tower Hamlets CCG commissioned eight local community organisations to undertake extensive engagement with key local groups.

They used a range of engagement methods including one-to-one interviews, focus groups, drop-in sessions, existing group meetings, community forums or events and home visits to gather feedback. People attending these community engagement sessions were also asked to complete primary care and urgent care questionnaires.

Around 2,000 patient and public engagement booklets with information and a questionnaire about the proposed changes to primary care were printed.

Information and the engagement booklet were available throughout the period on the Tower Hamlets CCG website, The two online questionnaires were also made available online.

The proposals were discussed with GPs at locality meetings, local commissioning forum events where GPs were in attendance, at the Local Medical Committee, Health Scrutiny Committee and Healthwatch Advisory Group meetings. 

Emails were sent to over 500 stakeholders including Healthwatch Tower Hamlets, Tower Hamlets Council, and the Tower Hamlets Council for Voluntary Services to encourage them to share their views and to encourage people they worked with to do the same.

An estimated 1,800 people were able to share their experiences and views on the proposed changes through the eight local community organisations’ engagement activities. Of those, 640 completed the primary care and urgent care questionnaires.

There were 148 respondents to the online and printed booklet primary care questionnaire, and 27 respondents to the online urgent care questionnaire.

A full report and a summary report on this engagement work has now been produced – based on the feedback provided by 788 respondents on primary care and 667 respondents on urgent care. Additional information and feedback was collected through engagement reports supplied by the eight community organisations.

The full report – and the shorter summary – are available to read below.