Priority Projects

Our priorities for April 2021 – March 2022

Following analysis of public feedback to identify common issues and concerns, and consultation with local health and care partners about national and local priorities, we will be investigating the following areas of health and social care this year.​

Accident and Emergency Care (A&E)

Covid-19 has changed the way A&E services are provided and the NHS now wants people to contact NHS 111 before visiting A&E.  We will investigate how new ways of working have affected people.  Working in partnership with Poole Hospital, our volunteers have been carrying out phone interviews with people who visited A&E in early 2021.  Their findings and recommendations for improvement will be shared with Poole Hospital, other Dorset hospitals, and with NHS England Improvement.  We will also investigate A&E patient experience at Dorset County Hospital later this year, to inform redevelopment of the hospital’s Emergency Department.

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Children and young people’s health and social care services

We will be asking local young people about their experiences of health and social care services and gathering their ideas on how services could work better for them.  The project is being designed and delivered by a group of volunteer ‘Young Listeners’ aged 16-25, with our support and training.  They will engage with other young people during the summer and report their findings to health and care decision makers in the autumn.  This project builds on our work last year gathering feedback from marginalised young people, which informed Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group’s review of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

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Access to Primary Care

Many people with serious health conditions are not getting the care they need when they need it, and this can lead to significantly poorer health outcomes, a situation made worse by Covid-19.  We want to raise public awareness about when and how to access healthcare, and we want to investigate how difficulties accessing primary care, like GPs, impact on health inequalities.  We also want to find out more about the benefits and challenges to patients of using digital methods of communication and consultation, and of how the patient experience can be improved, for example by reducing barriers and waiting times for booking appointments.

Another area of ongoing investigation will be the lack of access to NHS dentistry in Dorset.  This became a major area of concern and public feedback during the pandemic across the whole country, and we continue to receive many enquiries about how to get NHS dental care.  We will continue to gather feedback and work with other Healthwatch organisations across the country to urge the Department of Health and Social Care to prioritise oral health and commit to improving access to dentistry.

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Transport to health and social care services

Access to transport is a key theme that local people raise with us.  This research and engagement project will explore a range of issues including disabled access, access for older people and rural communities, the need for clear and accessible information about transport, and transport support for the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Annual work plan

How our priorities are identified

Other projects

Additional work

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