• Mental health is the public’s number one issue for 2018 according to Healthwatch, a position it has held for the third year in a row
  • Social care – particularly support for older people and their carers – is a close second with half of the Healthwatch network planning to do work on this issue in the next 12 months
  • Healthwatch calls for people to contact us and speak up about their experiences and ideas on how services can be improved in 2018

Analysis by the national health and care champion, Healthwatch England, has identified the key issues the public want to see policy makers and health professionals focus on over the next 12 months.

The top five priorities people told 152 local Healthwatch that they would like us to look more at are:

  • Mental health services – 99 of 152 (65%), with specific reoccurring issues notably Mental Health in Children and Young People
  • Adult social care, including residential care homes or care at home – 77 of 152 (51%)
  • Service changes, especially the implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) – 52 of 152 (34%)
  • Hospital care, including discharge and A&E services – 48 of 152 (32%)
  • Access to GP and dental services – 42 of 152 (28%)

Mental health was the top priority for the third year running.  People highlighted this issue in 65% of areas, most notably the care and support available to children and young people.  The lack of mental health awareness, early intervention and difficulty accessing effective and appropriate support were key themes.

Adult social care, particularly support for the elderly and their carers, has come a close second with local Healthwatch covering half of the country planning to do work on this issue in the next 12 months.  This follows reports by Healthwatch into care homes and being cared for at home.

Third on the list are service changes, especially Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs), which aim to help make health and care services more integrated and better at delivering tailored support.

With hospital care people told us that emergency care, getting to appointments and leaving hospital, can vary greatly.  Specific reoccurring themes include discharge and emergency care.

With GP services, specific themes include access and extended hours.  Poor access to primary care services has a knock-on effect, as long waits to be seen by a doctor or dentist can prevent people from receiving the right diagnosis, treatment or referral to specialist services.

This list of priorities will shape our work over the next 12 months.  Last year, over 340,000 spoke up about their experiences and shared their ideas with us.  These views helped result in changes across England.  In 2018, we want even more people to have their say.

We are calling people to contact their local Healthwatch and speak up about their ideas and experiences and are launching a campaign to get more people to share their views about these and other issues.

If you have an idea that could help improve health and care for you, a loved one or your community, contact Healthwatch Gloucestershire and #SpeakUp about your experiences and ideas on how services can be improved.  No matter how big or small the issue, we want to hear about it.

Imelda Redmond, National Director of Healthwatch England, said:

“We want to see all working in health and social care make it their personal New Year’s resolution for 2018 to work with people as partners in designing the future of services.”

“Healthwatch helps improve care by making sure services hear people’s views – what is working for you and what is not.  As we approach the 70th birthday of the NHS, If anyone has a story they want to share or an idea they think might help, I urge them to get involved and speak to their local Healthwatch.”

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