Over the last year, more than 1,000 people shared their views on the county’s health and social care services with Healthwatch Gloucestershire, helping to make care better for local people.
In its latest Annual Report, published today, Healthwatch Gloucestershire highlights how it has worked with communities across the county to make a difference to the way health and care services are run, and to raise awareness of important health and social care issues. (See below `The year in brief`.)
The report also identifies the most common health and social care concerns raised by local people, and outlines work for 2020/21, including a survey exploring how peoples’ access to health and care services has been affected by coronavirus.
The year in numbers
- Over 1,000 people shared their views and experiences of local health and social care.
- Over 4,460 people sought information, advice, and support on how to get the care they need.
- Healthwatch Gloucestershire visited over 140 community events, venues and health and care services across the county, to understand people’s experiences.
- They made 30 recommendations for improvement to health and social care providers.
- 52 volunteers supported Healthwatch Gloucestershire last year, giving up 1,350 hours of their time to engage with patients and the public, and to assess services.
- Common issues and concerns.
The most common areas of comment and concern raised with Healthwatch Gloucestershire last year were about primary care (eg GPs, dentists, pharmacists), in particular GP services, hospital and emergency services, the transition between different health and care services.
Announcing the report, Nikki Richardson, Chair of Healthwatch Gloucestershire local Board, said: “Looking back over last year provides a great opportunity to highlight the value of listening and learning from people’s experiences. We have connected with local communities across the county and represented their views to NHS decision makers and service providers, to make sure that public feedback is embedded into future planning for health and social care in Gloucestershire. I would like to thank everyone who has shared their story with us, and to our volunteers and the many groups we work with who help make health and social care better for local people.”
Helen Webb, Healthwatch Gloucestershire Manager, added: “We are looking forward to another productive year in 2020/21, focusing on improving services by promoting what matters most to local people.
“We are currently investigating how people’s access to health and social care services has been affected by coronavirus. NHS and social care staff have had to adapt to a lot of change over the last few months, and there will be things that can be improved in how they provide care, now and in the future. We want you to share your feedback on GP surgeries, care homes, hospitals, mental health services and dentists etc, to help services spot the issues and understand how to respond. Tell us what it’s been like for you during COVID-19 by completing our short online survey (smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CoronavirusHWG/) or by getting in touch with us on: 01452 504989 or 0800 6525193 (freephone).”
The year in brief: How listening to local people has helped make health and social care better
Gloucestershire NHS Long Term Plan: Healthwatch Gloucestershire asked people #WhatWouldYouDo to improve the NHS locally? They want local services to focus on improving access to quality GP care, support for those with complex and long-term conditions, support for carers, access to information and activities to help people stay healthy, and the specific needs of individuals and communities, such as language translation and mental health support around transitioning. Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group will use these findings to develop their future plans for local services.
Understanding the needs of mental health patients: Healthwatch Gloucestershire asked local people about their experiences of mental health services. Common barriers to specialist services were identified, including long waiting times, lack of support and flexibility of services, and difficulties getting help in a crisis. Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust have used the findings to help improve patient experience.
A carers perspective of mental health services: Healthwatch Gloucestershire investigated the needs of those who care for people using mental health services. They highlighted the need for greater understanding and professional support for unpaid carers, including help with managing carers own health, and easier access to better information and support. Feedback will be used by Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust to improve carers support and well-being.
Support for people with substance misuse and mental health issues: Healthwatch Gloucestershire explored the complex care needs of people who need support for these coexisting conditions. Their report, which will be published later this year and shared with Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group public health commissioners and the Health and Care Trust, recommends how services can develop a person-centred approach to recovery and support.
Review of urgent and hospital care: Healthwatch Gloucestershire worked throughout the year to make sure the needs, views and experiences of local people were gathered and placed at the heart of decision making about changes to services in the county. The outcome of Gloucestershire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group’s Fit for the Future programme has not yet been published.
Review of NHS Special Care Dental Services in the South West: Healthwatch Gloucestershire worked in partnership with NHS England to capture the views of local people who use or who could use special care dentistry services. NHS England are reviewing findings and will publish next steps.
Read the full Healthwatch Gloucestershire Annual Report 2019/20 to find out more: healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk/reports-publications
Healthwatch Gloucestershire projects for 2020/21
Healthwatch Gloucestershire has identified the following areas for investigation in 2020/21, based on common concerns raised by local people, while reflecting national and local health and social care priorities:
- Accessing health and care services during coronavirus
- Improving access to GP care
- Smoother transition between health and social care
- Tackling social isolation
- Representing young people’s views through young listeners.
These projects will be developed during the year, as heath and care services begin to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, to make sure the work reflects people’s needs.