Healthwatch England publishes 2019 annual report to Parliament

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Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair of Healthwatch England has today laid our annual report to parliament, setting out to MPs and the Government the key issues people are feeding back about their experiences of health and care services in England.

As the NHS focusses on reforming other areas of care, it needs to keep on talking to communities so that everyone gets the good quality care they need.
— Sir Robert Francis QC

Last year, Healthwatch supported over 336,000 people to share their story about health and social care. These views resulted in over 7,200 recommendations to services about the improvements that people would like to see.

Read our new report – Guided by you – to see how your voice makes a difference.

Read the report

This year’s report is supported by an additional summary of what 40,000 people told us about how they would like the changes proposed in the NHS Long Term Plan to be implemented where they live.

Between March and June 2019, the Healthwatch network carried out 500 focus groups, attended 1,000 events and engaged tens of thousands of people online to find out what people want from the next ten years of the NHS.

61% of cancer respondents provided a positive response versus 23% of respondents with dementia.

People affected by cancer, and heart and lung conditions said that they had a much better experience of care services than people with other conditions. For example, when asked ‘How would you describe your overall experience of getting help?’, 61% of cancer respondents provided a positive response versus 23% of respondents with dementia.

The positive feedback about cancer and heart and lung services appeared to be for a variety of reasons, including speed of diagnosis and treatment, access to rehabilitation, and quality of information and communication from professionals.

People affected by other issues, especially mental ill health, dementia or learning disabilities, told Healthwatch that this kind of support often wasn’t in place for them and that professionals did not give enough consideration to their full range of needs.

Seven steps the public think would improve wider NHS support

  1. Better access to appointments
    People would like more appointment flexibility as well as the opportunity to discuss multiple health issues in one appointment.
  2. Support available when needed
    The waits between follow up appointments can be too long, often meaning health conditions get worse. While people wait to see a specialist, they would like to see more opportunities for peer support to learn how others deal with the challenges and complications they face.
  3. More online appointments 
    As long as the opportunity to talk to professional’s face to face remains, people would like to see improved access to online appointments. This would be particularly helpful to people who live in rural areas who struggle to get to their GP.
  4. Better personalised care
    People want to be treated as individuals, with more personalised information about how to look after themselves
  5. Only ask once
    If medical records were shared more consistently, less time could be spent repeating health issues and more time talking about treatment and support
  6. Help with travel
    People with limited access to transport want more thought given to how they travel to services far from home.
  7. More help for carers
    Those looking after others want more support to help them have a break, as well as being more involved in decisions about treatment and support.

Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair of Healthwatch England, said: 

“Thanks to the thousands of people who told us about their experiences of health and care services, we’ve been able to help the NHS hear where the public want them to focus their efforts over the next ten years.

“What is clear is that people are broadly on board with what the NHS is trying to do. The extra investment made by the Government will also help the NHS to change the way it operates. But for the plan to work, it is also vital that professionals, policymakers and politicians need to keep listening to what people have to say about their care.

“The positive feedback we heard about NHS heart and cancer support reflects the year’s professionals have spent talking to patients to get services right. As the NHS focusses on reforming other areas of care, it needs to keep on talking to communities so that everyone gets the good quality care they need.”

What people want from the next ten years of the NHS

Between March and June 2019, the Healthwatch network carried out 500 focus groups, attended 1,000 events and engaged tens of thousands of people online to find out what people want from the next ten years of the NHS.

Read what people told us in our report ‘What people want from the next ten years of the NHS’.

Read the report

Healthwatch England – News – 29 January 2020