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Your spotlight on health and social care services


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Making care better today

We use what people tell the Healthwatch network about their experiences to identify where changes are needed to make services better.

This year we have worked with local Healthwatch to highlight how services could be improved to better meet the needs of the people who use them. 

Improving people’s experiences of leaving care

We published Safely home in July 2015, a report detailing thousands of people’s experiences of being discharged from hospital. We found that for older people, those with mental health conditions, and people who have experienced homelessness, leaving care is not always a safe and dignified process. Whilst this issue was already widely recognised, the human impact was not fully understood until we brought people’s stories to the fore. Informed by our findings, the Department of Health is now developing a new vision for improving discharge that all health and care services can share. We are using people told us to contribute to this work.

Making mental health services better for children

Local Healthwatch found that mental health was people’s top concern for 2015-16. People said they wanted help tackling mental health concerns sooner, better access to support, and for everybody in the community to understand what mental health is and to tackle stigma. Numerous local Healthwatch have worked on projects to promote greater attention to the mental health needs of their communities. We have also used what the network told us to call for change at a national level.

Calling for greater access to gender identity services

People wanting gender reassignment surgery are often subject to significant delays, which can be extremely distressing. But as more people are requesting this kind of treatment, the waiting list is getting longer. Several local Healthwatch have taken local action to highlight the needs of transgender people in the community. We have also shared what people have told the network with NHS England and the NHS has since allocated additional funding to bringing down waiting times in both 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Encouraging services to learn from complaints

Since our report in October 2014 – Suffering in silence – we have continued to call for a health and social complaints system that really listens to what people have to say. Local Healthwatch too have been involved with reviewing local complaints systems and using people’s experiences to inform recommendations for improvements.

Read more in our annual report.

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