01452 504989 or 0800 652 5193 (freephone) info@healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk

62% of people in South West ready to help improve health and social care after coronavirus

Healthwatch Gloucestershire has joined local and national health and care organisations calling on Gloucestershire residents to give feedback about their care during coronavirus (COVID-19) to help services reflect, recover, and improve.

New research from the Care Quality Commission and Healthwatch England shows that 62% of people in the South West say they are more likely to take steps to improve health and social care services since the outbreak of COVID-19.

In response, Healthwatch Gloucestershire is supporting Because We All Care, a new campaign calling on local people who use services to help shape future health and social care, locally and nationally.

The campaign builds on Healthwatch Gloucestershire’s recent work encouraging local people to share feedback on their experiences of health and social care services during the pandemic, to help services identify and address quality issues to support local patients.

What are people in South West England saying?

The national research, conducted following the start of the COVID-19 crisis, has revealed a fascinating snapshot of how people in the South West of England view feedback on care:

  • 56% of people said they would be more willing since COVID-19 to support NHS and social care services by actively providing feedback on their care.
  • 44% of people reported to have avoided services due to COVID-19 (27% below national average of 71%).
  • 60% reported noticeable changes to the standard of care resulting from the pandemic.
  • 41% of people are particularly more grateful for GP services.
  • 74% of people surveyed said that feedback is an important way to improve services, yet despite greater public willingness to contribute, some barriers do remain.
  • While 41% of people are more likely to provide positive feedback on care, 26% also now consider themselves less likely to provide negative feedback on care.
  • 29% of people said they would be reluctant to provide negative feedback in case it increases pressure on services or staff.

What are Gloucestershire residents saying about local health and care during COVID-19?

Healthwatch Gloucestershire has been asking local people what has worked well and what hasn’t with health and social care services during COVID-19.

Feedback received so far has been largely positive showing understanding of the extraordinary situation that health and care providers have found themselves in.  However, as time has gone on, frustrations have emerged about delays and lack of services, with the most common issues raised around access to GPs, pharmacies, and hospital services. (See selection of public comments below.)

Helen Webb, Healthwatch Gloucestershire Manager, is calling on people from across the county to share their experiences to help local services reflect and improve:  “It’s great to see public understanding and appreciation for the work our health and social care staff have done during the coronavirus pandemic.  They have had to adapt at great speed to care for people with the virus, while trying to maintain care and support for many of our most sick and vulnerable people.  With services now working to bounce back from the impact of COVID-19, public feedback has never been more important.

“We are launching the Because We All Care campaign to help local people understand how, by sharing their experiences, they can help NHS and social care services spot what is working and what could be done better.  We want as many Gloucestershire residents as possible to tell us about their care during COVID-19, the good and the bad, no matter how big or small.  Your views really will help local health and social care services to understand, develop and improve care for you, your loved ones, and the local community.”

You can share your experiences and feedback, confidentially, by completing Healthwatch Gloucestershire’s online survey or by contacting the local office on 01452 504989 or 0800 6525193 (freephone). (Survey now closed)

Healthwatch Gloucestershire can also provide you with advice and information to help you access the care and support you need.

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector Adult Social Care, Care Quality Commission said:  “People working in health and social care have been going to extraordinary lengths to deliver good, safe care during this global crisis.  They have never had a more crucial – or a more challenging – role to play.  This new research clearly shows the public’s appreciation for the care and support they and their loved ones have received and it’s inspiring that people are now looking for ways to channel this into practical action.  Now more than ever, every voice really does matter.  It’s only by hearing what’s working and what’s not, that health and social care providers can improve the quality of care and support that they are delivering.”

Public feedback from the Healthwatch Gloucestershire survey about accessing care during COVID-19

Pharmacies and prescriptions: “My surgery and pharmacy are running really well! Fantastic effort to try and help during COVID-19.  They have been delivering many prescriptions and have really done a fantastic job!”

Exceptional GP care:  “I contracted COVID-19 and on my 10th day I became short of breath.  I contacted my GP and she rang me back.  She assessed me over the phone, reassured me and then rang me every day for a further four days.  Exceptional care.”

Disruption to urgent cancer care:  “I was diagnosed with liver secondaries after bowel cancer two years ago.  Unfortunately this was just before the lockdown and details that were sent to Birmingham were delayed for about a month, and when I was able to start treatment it was limited to tablets at home and only one drug rather than two.  Unfortunately, I had an adverse reaction to the drug, and after attendance at A&E and an overnight stay I was taken off the original drug.  Now I have to go to Oncology for another drug given by drip.  Obviously, I hope that the risk of infection has reduced but there has been a delay in treatment.”

Great care but long wait for specialist: “Can’t speak too highly of consultants and nurses at the Acute hospital Trust, my GP, and the community nurse who turned up to do bloods on the day asked.  The problem has been getting access to a dietician – over a month now since requested by the first consultant.”

COVID-19 symptoms but no referral or support:  “I had new cough, sore throat, muscle aches and would have been at risk (to COVID-19) due to recent respiratory admission and asthma, but I never got past the call handler because I didn’t have a temperature and ‘didn’t sound ill enough’, hence never referred to a health professional.  This was very arbitrary.  Everything based on tick list.”

Face masks hinder communication for people who are hearing impaired:  “If you’re hard of hearing, you really can’t lip read when they’re wearing a mask.”