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Hundreds of people in Gloucestershire have shared their views on how to improve NHS health services in the county.

Quicker access to a named GP with longer appointments; easier and cheaper ways to access exercise classes, gyms and cycleways; a ‘care navigator’ to be provided for those living with dementia; and increased mental health support around transition for the trans community were the top four things people in Gloucestershire would like to see improved.

Their views were shared as part of Healthwatch Gloucestershire’s What Would You Do? campaign and the findings are revealed in a new report published today.

More than 200 residents, patients and their families took part in What Would You do? activities, which launched in March to encourage people in the county to share their views about how extra money from the Government should be spent on local NHS services.

The public were asked to give their views about how local services could improve, and to share ideas about the NHS can help people live healthier lives and take more control of their care.

Other findings from the engagement work which took part from February to May this year, include:

  • People would like to see better quality, accessible and easy to read information about specific conditions and how they can live healthier lives (e.g. dietary information).
  • Carers would like better support to enable them to carry out their caring role. In particular, community-based support.
  • Consideration needs to be given to those for whom English in not their first language.  In particular, instructions on medication packets to be translated, translation services that are consistent and meet the needs of the individual e.g. using the correct dialects and dental/GP registration forms made available in different languages or translators provided to assist in completion.
  • The needs of the LGBT+ community should be considered when local and national plans are being put together.

Julia Butler-Hunt, Manager at Healthwatch Gloucestershire said: “The Government is investing an additional £20 billion a year in the NHS as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.  We were asked to help find out what local people thought was the best way for the NHS in Gloucestershire to invest in the right services as part of this plan.

“It was wonderful to listen to so many people keen to make a difference in our local NHS.  These views are all in the report and we will now monitor how the local NHS responds.”

Terminal cancer patient Ginny Ring, from Upton St Leonard’s near Gloucester, shared her views about local NHS services.  She said that although care she has received from the NHS had been good, small changes would make a big difference to patients.

“I admire the NHS so much, I have no grumbles whatsoever, apart from a few things that I have found difficult.  I would like to see waiting times for scan results reduced.  This can be a very anxious wait for people and can currently be very long.

“I also feel the appointments system could be simpler and easier.  The oncologist’s secretary does not always answer the phone and sometimes the answer phone is not on and that can be very frustrating.  Last year I found getting an urgent referral to see a maxillofacial surgeon so difficult.

“And lastly, I find the oncology waiting room a very depressing place and the décor could be updated.  The way the waiting room looks has a big impact on people.  The one I visit is exactly the same as it was in 1998.  The small waiting rooms mean you can hear what is being said in the room next door.  The little cafe only offers unhealthy things, like chocolate, crisps and cold pies.  Surely hot soup and a soft roll could be available, as people can sometimes be waiting hours.”

Becky Parish, from the One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System, said: “Healthwatch Gloucestershire has worked alongside NHS colleagues to collect the views of local people about ‘what matters’ to them about local health and care over the past few months. The One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System NHS partners want to ensure that local people are part of everything we do and that local voices are heard. Joint working with Healthwatch Gloucestershire supports this aim.

“We are pleased to receive the Healthwatch Gloucestershire report and will combine this with the feedback we have gathered to inform the development of services that are ‘fit for the future’ in Gloucestershire.”

There will be other opportunities for the public to share their views over the summer about urgent advice, assessment and treatment services and specialist hospital services.  For more details visit: www.onegloucestershire.net

The report, NHS Long Term Plan: The views of Gloucestershire residents, will be shared with the local NHS and can be viewed here: www.healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk/reports-publications/.