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

Healthwatch Dorset has joined local and national health and care organisations calling on Dorset 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 Dorset 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 Dorset’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 Dorset residents saying about local health and care during COVID-19?

So far, over 60 local people have told Healthwatch Dorset what has worked well and what hasn’t with health and social care services during COVID-19.  The most common issues raised have been around access to GPs, pharmacies and medications, hospital services and dentists. (See examples of public feedback below.)

79% of people said they have been able to find the information they needed about local services, while 21% had problems finding information about GP services, carers resources, mental health support, access to PPE, and COVID-19 testing.

Louise Bate, Healthwatch Dorset Manager, is calling on local people to share their experiences to help local services reflect and improve:  “It’s great to see public 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 Dorset 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 Dorset’s online survey or by contacting the local office on 0300 111 0102.

Healthwatch Dorset 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 Dorset survey about Dorset health and care during COVID-19:

Mental health services:  “I was receiving weekly therapy with the Community Mental Health team and this has been put on hold indefinitely.  This has contributed to a decline in my mental state.  The Retreat/Community Front Room services are also closed so accessing those is not a possibility.”

Prescriptions:  “I have repeatedly tried to set up electronic prescriptions with both my pharmacy and surgery.  Prescriptions keep failing to be sent and I get sent between the pharmacy and surgery.  If this system worked properly it could have avoided several visits to pharmacy and surgery.”

Accessing emergency dental care:  “After weeks of severe pain I contacted 111 as my dentist was closed.  I spent days going back and forth between 111, my dentist and the urgent dental centre, still waiting for treatment even though my dentist has said it’s urgent.  The main frustrations have been waiting hours for call backs and the urgent list closing each day.  I have been told that the list doesn’t carry over and I have to call at 7am each day to be added to the list again.  I am in unmanageable pain.  I was also incorrectly sent to A&E by 111 which added to the frustrations.”

Cancer check-ups postponed: “Whilst I appreciate cancer check-ups have to be postponed, this does cause anxiety.  Not sure why private hospitals can’t be used?  I had chemo & surgery last year was due a mammogram in April & told someone would phone me to talk about what would happen.  Very little information about how things will be going forward & when I might get seen.”

Hospital telephone consultations:  “I recently had a telephone consultation with my Rheumatoid consultant.  This consultation was over the phone, and I had to email photographs so that the clinicians could see my hands and feet.  It would have been better to have a video call in the case of this consultation.”

GP eConsultations:  “Our GP surgery has set up an eConsult service that has allowed me to access medication I need without requiring face time with the GP.  The service was easy to use & response very quick.”