Talking healthcare: Local NHS launches new ‘conversation’ with people in south west London

People in Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton and Wandsworth are being asked for their input as the local NHS continues to plan for the future of healthcare in south west London.

Pressures on the NHS are making national headlines, as the service struggles to cope with rising demand in hospitals during the winter period. Local services in south west London are under increasing pressure and local clinicians and managers agree that a long term plan is needed to address the serious issues we face.


Some of the biggest challenges are:

  • Our population is increasing and ageing. More people than ever before are living with complex physical and/or mental health problems, sometimes needing new treatments which can be expensive. We want to help them live healthy, independent lives for as long as possible, but our current services are just not set up to do this.


  • Too often, people end up in hospital in an emergency when we could have treated them earlier or closer to home. Our systems are not set up in the right way: we do not do enough to keep people well, treat them as soon as possible or help them to monitor and manage their health on a day-to-day basis.


  • Due to increased demand, there are not enough senior doctors to provide the round the clock care patients need at all our acute hospitals – and this is made worse by the fact that too many people end up in hospital when they really do not need to be there. There is also a national shortage of other qualified staff such as GPs, nurses and specialist children’s doctors which makes it difficult to deliver consistently high quality care.


  • There are some excellent health services in south west London, but not all services meet the standard we want for our patients. The service you receive depends too much on where and when you seek help from the NHS. Too often, people end up giving the same information to lots of different professionals – this is what we mean when we say services are not ‘joined up’ enough and we need them to be.


  • Not all of our buildings are suitable for 21st century healthcare. They need to be brought up to scratch so that the NHS can provide the best possible setting for patients in a modern and safe setting. We need to upgrade facilities in primary care, mental health and some of our hospitals.


  • These pressures on the NHS are made worse by reductions to local council budgets, especially social care. When services such as day centres, home help, residential care and support for people leaving hospital are being reduced, there is knock-on effect on what people look for from the NHS.


  • As a result of all these pressures, the costs of providing our services are rising far more quickly than the money we get from central government each year. This means that there is a growing ‘financial gap’. If we do not address this by changing the way services are delivered, we will not be able to afford the services we now provide in five years’ time.


All parts of the local NHS – hospital doctors, GPs, nurses, therapists, hospitals, mental health trusts, pharmacists and commissioners – have worked together and with local authority colleagues and members of the public on a draft Five Year Forward Plan to improve local health services and make them sustainable for the long term.

During 2017, the NHS wants to build on many years of dialogue with local people in a new and wide-ranging ‘conversation’ across south west London, which is being called ‘Talking Healthcare’.

Over the next two months, public Talking Healthcare Forums will be held in each of the six local boroughs. The local NHS and local authorities will be encouraging local people to have their say in a variety of ways – at local meetings, via social media or by responding directly in writing to the ideas being put forward. The NHS will also be carrying out an online survey to gather people’s views on what matters to them about their NHS

Dr Andrew Murray, GP Chair of Merton CCG, said:  “We’ve been talking with local people for many years about the significant challenges local health services are facing. We’ve taken their feedback into account in developing a Five Year Forward Plan for south west London.

“The Five Year Forward Plan is not a detailed blueprint – it’s a series of emerging plans for how we might improve different areas of healthcare. We have published the document for discussion, and we now want to go back to local people and organisations and see what they think of the ideas.

“There are a whole range of ideas we are putting forward. The central aim is to tackle the challenges we have been talking about for many years, making sure people can get high quality care wherever they access our services and that the whole system works together, rather than different parts of it competing against each other.”

Dr Naz Jivani, GP Chair of Kingston CCG,  added: “We need to deliver services differently to how we do now. If we help people sooner – and if we invest more money in primary care services, community care and support for people at home – we can improve the quality of care simply by spending our money more wisely. This will mean changes to the way in which health services support you and what is expected of you. But we believe that our plan will improve and also protect your local health services for future generations.

“We need to look carefully at what services are provided where, making sure more care is available closer to home for those who need it. We know we have some excellent services in south west London, but we also know that some of them are very stretched and we do not always meet the standards we want for our patients. We know, for example, that too many people end up in hospital when they do not need to be there. We also need to do much more work across the NHS and with our local authority colleagues to prevent illness and keep people well.

“Taken together, we think the ideas we are proposing will reduce the pressure on our hospitals and strengthen the care available to patients in the community – for example, making it easier to see a GP or another primary care clinician such as a nurse or pharmacist.

“This is the start of what we hope will be an on-going conversation with patients and the public about our NHS. It is precious to all of us and we want it to work the best way it possibly can for local people. We will of course share the feedback we receive across south west London and make sure that it continues to inform our thinking.”


The key ideas set out in the Five Year Forward Plan – and set to be discussed at local Health and Care Forums in each borough over the next two months – are set out in a summary of the plan which is available here The full plan is also available online

Unlike previous plans for the area, which were led by local commissioners,  the Five Year Forward Plan is the product of unprecedented collaboration between all parts of the local NHS, working with colleagues in local councils and with members of the public represented on all clinical groups.


How to get involved in ‘Talking Healthcare’

  • Go along to a Health and Care Forum in your area – dates and links for eventbrite are listed below
  • Follow @SWLNHS on Twitter, using the hashtag #talkinghealthcare
  • Invite NHS spokespeople to your meetings to talk about the Five Year Forward Plan
  • Write to South West London NHS, 5th floor, 120 The Broadway, Wimbledon SW19 1RH
  • Initial responses are invited by the end of February 2017.

Health and care forums in south west London (all forums are from 6pm – 9pm) 

1 February 2017   Sutton Borough Event, The Trinity Centre, Holy Trinity Church, Maldon Road, Wallington SM6 8BL

7 February 2017   Croydon Borough Event, Croydon and District Masonic Halls, 73 Oakfield Road, Croydon CR0 2UX

8 February 2017  Kingston Borough Event, Kingsmeadow Function Rooms, Jack Goodchild Way, 422a Kingston Road, Kingston KT1 3PB

2 March 2017      Richmond Borough Event, Clarendon Hall, York House, Richmond Road, Twickenham TW1 3AA

14 March 2017    Wandsworth Borough Event, Wandsworth Campus, South Thames College, Wandsworth High Street, London SW18 2PP

TBC                      Merton Borough Event

If you would like to attend a forum, please register your interest at, or email us at or phone 020 8251 0591/020 8544 6180.