At our Board meeting last Wednesday (read all the Board papers here) we had an important agenda item on mental health. The last 12 months have been challenging in mental health and we heard about this and the progress that has been made. In the last year there have been changes to the law which give equal importance to mental health as to physical health - so called Parity of Esteem. Our local provider, South West London & St George’s Mental Health Trust is applying for foundation trust status. Questions were asked about the financial situation and also about the quality of care that our patients receive in mental health services.


In Wandsworth three children in every classroom suffer from mental health problems, one in five adults will have depression at some point in their lives, more women than men, and there is a high prevalence of mental health issues in black and ethnic minority backgrounds other than white or Asian. People from black and other ethnic minority communities who experience a mental health problem often only receive help at the point of crisis and are less likely to access early assistance - this is something we need to change.


The Mental Health Clinical Reference Group is an excellent example of partnership working across a variety of organisations including GPs, the mental health trust, Wandsworth Council, other providers from the voluntary sector, the BME forum, patients, service users and their carers. The Clinical Reference Group works together to improve mental health services in the borough so that local people get the best possible services and outcomes for their mental health.


We had an in depth discussion about the IAPT service (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies). The service is proving to be effective and patients are recovering well after accessing therapies. However, we need to ensure more people can access the service and improve the waiting times. We are working with the mental health trust and investing to try and expand where the service is offered so that there are more opportunities in the community and not just GP surgeries.


There is a huge amount of work going forward including improvements to mental health services for pregnant women and new mothers, investment in The Big White Wall to provide live therapy sessions, a suicide presentation strategy working with more partners in the police, prison service and schools, and more work on prevention, early intervention, hospital care and hospital discharge with black and ethnic minority communities.


We heard the first finance report of the financial year and this set the scene for the rest of the year, highlighting the risks and action being taken to ensure Wandsworth CCG remains in a good financial position. We had an interesting update on the West Wandsworth Locality which covers the 79,000 people that live in Putney and Roehampton. We have a very active patient group in the area, which we work alongside on important issues. Lots of new GPs in the area have been attending our meetings and getting involved, as well as the practice managers and nurses, and a new nurse leader on the West Wandsworth Members Forum who is a senior nurse from the Heathbridge practice in Putney.


Looking to the future one of the areas West Wandsworth is focusing on is cardiovascular disease. In order to improve uptake of NHS Health Checks the practices are going to be working together to ensure patients from all practices have access to the checks. The locality is also purchasing blood pressure machines for practice waiting rooms and materials to explain to patients about blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.


Another important area in West Wandsworth is mental health. Mindfulness courses will be available over the next two months which we'll evaluate to see how well they are working. The other pilot, suggested by the patient group, is a workshop on sleep disorders which the patient group felt was an important area that needed addressing.


Another busy month! I hope you find these updates useful and they give you an insight into all of the work happening across the borough. See you next month.