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Healthwatch network reveals public’s health and care priorities for 2017

31/12/16

Analysis by the national health and care consumer champion, Healthwatch England, has identified the key issues the public want to see policy makers and health professionals focus on over the next 12 months.

  • Mental health at number one for the second year running
  • Social care rising up the list with particular focus on care in people’s homes

Access to, and the quality of, mental health services topped the list last year and retains the top spot, with two thirds of the Healthwatch network reporting that their communities want it to be a core focus for improvement.

Rising to second on this year’s priority list is social care, with almost half of local Healthwatch picking up on concerns, including questions around the quality of some local care homes and issues concerning access for some care home residents to other health services, like NHS dentistry.

Digging deeper into the rise of social care, we found that concerns around care services delivered in people’s homes, such as help with washing, dressing and support to take medication, contributed significantly with 1 in 5 local Healthwatch now citing domiciliary care as a priority, double the number who raised it last year. 

The sorts of concerns heard by local Healthwatch include people not knowing which carer would visit them or at what time, leaving them feeling vulnerable, and care workers feeling rushed and without the right information, which meant they had insufficient knowledge of service user needs.

Spending time in the community visiting users of these services, as well as working with carers, local Healthwatch are uniquely placed to gather and share intelligence about people’s experiences and ensure concerns are addressed. Examples of Healthwatch work on domiciliary care include:

  • In March 2016 Healthwatch Newcastle’s ‘Spotlight on home care’ report raised a number of areas service users wanted to see improved to help inform the tender process for a new provider contract across the city.
  • Healthwatch Bexley highlighted the importance of good home care in enabling people to stay in their own homes and cited friendliness, empathy and humour as vital to developing a good relationship between service users and carers.
  • In Torbay, after picking up a number of complaints from local residents, the local Healthwatch reported this to the CQC resulting in the provider being put into special measures in November.

Nationally, we published our top five things people should be able to expect from a good home care service.


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 Jane Mordue, Chair of Healthwatch England, said:

“While mental health remains top of the list it is clear that social care is on the rise, with more people raising it as a priority with their local Healthwatch than problems getting access to their family doctor.

“Healthwatch is here to help make care better by making sure services hear what is working for people and what is not. However, we can only take action at a local or national level with evidence from people about their experiences.

“Given the big challenges facing the whole health and care service right now and the prospect of big changes in the way services are delivered, it is more important than ever that people’s voices are heard.

“So if anyone has a story they want to share or an idea they think might help, I urge them to make it their New Year’s resolution to get involved and speak to their local Healthwatch.” 

What else is on the list? 

The priorities list is compiled on an annual basis from the local priorities set by each individual local Healthwatch to create the top five issues across the country. 

  • Mental Health - including mental health services for children and young people (101 local Healthwatch)
  • Social care – including care homes and services provided in peoples’ homes (78 local Healthwatch)
  • Primary care – such as GP services (51 local Healthwatch)
  • Children and young people’s experiences of health and social care (42 local Healthwatch)
  • The experiences of seldom heard groups, including BAME communities (23 local Healthwatch)

Help encourage more people to #SpeakUp about local health and care services

Join our campaign to help improve health and care in 2017 by encouraging more people to contact their local Healthwatch and #SpeakUp about their ideas and experiences.

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