01452 504989 or 0800 6525193 (freephone) info@healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk

Healthwatch Gloucestershire has announced further details of its work to support health and social care services to develop and improve for local people, both during the coronavirus outbreak and in the future.

They are currently seeking and gathering the views of local people in relation to coronavirus services and other urgent and on-going needs, and providing real-time feedback to those in charge of health and social care services to help them resolve issues quickly.  They are also helping local people find out how to get the care and support they need during these challenging times.

Common concerns raised so far fall into three main categories: people who are self-isolating and in need of help; those with anxieties and issues around getting prescriptions and medications; and those who are anxious about regular appointments or treatments and having difficulty finding the right information.  Positive messages and experiences are centred around GP practices and how they are working well, sometimes in different ways.

Healthwatch Gloucestershire has also identified some broad priority areas it hopes to investigate later in the year: GP surgeries, transitions between services, young people’s experience of services, and social isolation (see more detail below).  These future priorities will be reviewed in light of the coronavirus, to ensure they make a positive difference to how health and care services are delivered locally.

Nikki Richardson, Chair of the Healthwatch Gloucestershire local Board, explained why they are focusing on these areas of health and social care provision: “Health and social care services are more effective when they reflect and respond to the views and needs of local people.  Our current focus is on supporting local people and services to access and deliver effective care during coronavirus, but we are also looking ahead.  Before the UK went into lockdown due to the virus, we had agreed a number of priorities to investigate during the next 12 months.  These were identified from public feedback and through consultation to ensure they fed into national and local NHS and social care priorities.  We have announced these priorities but will review them in light of current restrictions, to ensure our work continues to be relevant and beneficial to the situation people will be facing locally.”

Healthwatch Gloucestershire Manager, Helen Webb, outlined how they will adapt and deliver their public engagement work programme in the face of current social distancing restrictions: “Social distancing means we will need to be creative in how we reach people, but there are plenty of ways people can share their health and social care experiences with us, including online surveys, via our website, social media, by email, and over the phone.  When we announce each new project we let people know how they can get involved.  This year, we’ve started with our new online survey to find out how this virus outbreak may be changing the way people access local services, particularly if they rely on them for regular care: smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CoronavirusHWG/.”

If you want to know more about Healthwatch Gloucestershire’s work you can sign up to receive a monthly ebulletin, follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, and visit the website: healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk/.
You can contact Healthwatch Gloucestershire by phone: 01452 504989 or 0800 6525193 (freephone), or by email: info@healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk.

Healthwatch Gloucestershire priorities April 2020-March 2021

Accessing local health and care services during the coronavirus pandemic

In April, Healthwatch Gloucestershire launched a new public feedback project to find out how coronavirus is affecting people’s experience of local health and care services.  People are sharing their stories about how services are adapting, to highlight what is working well and where things need to be improved.  This information will be shared with those providing services in Gloucestershire to help them understand how to adapt and deliver effective care during such challenging times.  More information: smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CoronavirusHWG/.

Social isolation

Isolation is a core experience of the coronavirus pandemic.  Findings from Healthwatch Gloucestershire’s survey into people’s experiences of accessing care during the virus outbreak, will help to shape more in-depth work on social isolation during the year ahead.

GP Surgeries

Accessing care through GP surgeries is one of the most common areas of feedback received by Healthwatch Gloucestershire.  For example, long waits for the phone to be answered or for appointments, and issues around how staff deal with people seeking care.  This work would aim to investigate whether the anecdotal evidence is reflected in the information gathered by the new Primary Care Networks.  For example, by reviewing data on waiting times, gathering people’s experiences of interactions with their local surgery, and evaluating whether information provided to patients helps them get the best from their surgery.

Coronavirus is having a big impact on the delivery of services through GPs surgeries.  The timing of this project and elements of this work will be adjusted to ensure it is relevant and meaningful.

Transitions between services

Anxiety, delay and confusion are common themes reported to Healthwatch Gloucestershire by people moving from one service to another.  While the services themselves are often regarded as good, the transition can be stressful.  Healthwatch Gloucestershire would like to investigate this further by focusing on the experiences of stroke victims and their health and social care journey.  The aim would be to identify what works well and what needs to be improved for patients and their carers, to deliver a more seamless transition between services.  The project will begin with a research phase to review people’s past experiences, while developing ideas for further engagement work.

Young Listeners’ Project

Healthwatch Gloucestershire aims to establish a new Young Listeners’ project.  Young people from across Gloucestershire would be recruited as volunteer young listeners to engage with other children and young people so that their voices are involved in shaping local services.

This project is on hold until it is safe to go out and engage with young people around the county.