Positioning Healthwatch Leeds as the voice of patients across the city
By Linn Phipps
Linn Phipps has been the chair of Healthwatch Leeds since its inception in 2013. Here Linn provides an insight into her personal role and her ambitions for the organisation.
What does your role as the Chair of Healthwatch Leeds Board involve?
My remit involves working closely with our Director Tanya Matilainen, the Board and our staff, as well as working with local stakeholders and organisations. I also represent local Healthwatches on the national Stakeholder Forum of Patient Online. This is the Department of Health campaign to encourage GPs to provide online services for patients and online access to their health records – and to encourage patients to use these services.
What motivates you to help drive Healthwatch Leeds forward?
I am committed to achieving better health and care outcomes for local people, through enabling local voices to have more impact on their own care and on the local health and care system. And I believe that good governance helps enable this to happen.
What is your background?
For over 15 years I’ve held non-executive director (NED) and chair roles locally in NHS primary care and secondary care. I have a portfolio career now, with NED appointments and consultancy work. My work focuses on coaching and mediation; addressing governance and risk; and reducing health inequalities; for example being a member of the northern regional committee of Stonewater Housing Association. I hold national roles representing patient and public voice - for example, on NHS England’s Clinical Priorities Advisory Group.
How does the Board contribute to the running of Healthwatch Leeds?
The Board leads on developing the organisation’s vision and strategy, and ensuring effective governance, while prioritising the work programme and areas for delivery, and overseeing the budget. All Board members also do a range of front line volunteering, for example participating in Enter and View visits, or one-off pieces of work like asking local people about their experiences of A&E. Volunteering’s great as it keeps us close to what real people feel, keeps our feet on the ground.
How do you think the organisation has developed during your tenure?
I have seen many formative developments at Healthwatch Leeds. We started by undertaking six quick and relatively small pieces of work in response to issues raised by local groups such as asylum seekers. Subsequently we have also undertaken larger and more strategic pieces of work such as our survey of patient experiences in A&E, and developed a more strategic alignment with the priorities of Leeds and its Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy. We’ve forged strong local partnerships.
Our Director Tanya Matilainen has particularly led the development of our initiative “People’s Voices”, enabling Healthwatch Leeds to play a pivotal role in giving patients and the people of Leeds an influential voice in the health and care system.
Listening is crucial. The Board, our committed team of employees and our dedicated volunteers ensure we are effective in listening to people’s views – as well as making sure that these views have an impact and influence on the decisions that are made in the development and delivery of health and social care services in Leeds.
What do you feel have been your best achievements in post?
Focussing Healthwatch Leeds, as the voice of patients and the public, on making a real difference and influencing the local health and social care system. In my own roles, I usually ask questions about what is the evidence that partners really have co-designed their strategies and plans with local people and patients.
I’m very pleased that we have forged strong relationships with key strategic leaders across Leeds and gained recognition of being able to add value to Leeds. We have developed measures of progress with our commissioners, and are further developing indicators of strategic impact.
I’m proud that over the last two years we have laid the groundwork as an influencer both nationally and locally, we have shared our good practices and learnt from others, and are seen as an exemplary local Healthwatch. We have been featured by Healthwatch England as their Healthwatch of the week!
What top 5 goals would you like to see Healthwatch Leeds achieve?
1. For Healthwatch Leeds to continue to be effective in hearing people’s views
2. For these views to influence what happens in health and social care
3. For Healthwatch Leeds to be acknowledged as a pro-active, ‘go to’ partner and leader in patient and public voice. Also, for this voice to become integral to the health and social care system so that we are seen as part of the solution and not simply a ‘nice to have’
4. To increase the number of citizen and patient leaders who can gather and present the public’s view – and who can help people to become leaders in their own right
5. Upskilling people to become these leaders.
What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the organisation in the next two years?
Embedding our new structure and ensuring we remain sustainable.
How will the organisation confront and overcome these challenges?
Through effective planning and continuing collaboration as we carry on demonstrating our success and building on our good relationship with Leeds City Council, who are our commissioners.
How do you relax outside of work?
I’m passionate about singing and – as an amateur - enjoy performing folk songs in pubs locally and in Scotland and London.