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Your spotlight on health and social care services
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Essential services

"I want the right to a set of essential prevention, treatment and care services, provided to a high standard which prevent me from being in crisis and lead to improvements in my health and care."

“It’s at the centre of everything – the minimum – the things that you can expect across the whole spectrum.”

People we spoke to felt this is the starting point for thinking about rights. It represents the way that as a society we ensure every one of us has access to a core set of services.

They thought essential services probably included: urgent medical treatment, adequate nutrition in any care setting, help with managing a long term health condition and home or personal care to live as independently as possible.

Developing a shared view of essential services is complicated by the issue of funding. People are used to having some services provided free of charge like accident and emergency services, or seeing a GP. Other health services like dentistry or physiotherapy may have charges. The situation in social care is changing rapidly, with many more people paying for more of the basic services they need.

Finding a common understanding of essential services may be increasingly important with increasing pressure on funding.

What this could mean in practice

You have the right to be seen by a cancer specialist within a maximum of two weeks from GP referral for urgent referrals where cancer is suspected.

If you are a child at risk of abuse, harm or neglect, your council or health professional should work together with the relevant authorities to make sure your needs are met in a sensitive and supportive manner.

If you are a resident in a care home you have the right to be adequately fed and given help with eating at mealtimes if you need it.

Join the conversation

Tweet your thoughts, or contact your local Healthwatch to share your thoughts and experiences. Some questions to get you started:

  • What does the right to essential services mean to you?
  • How do you see this right working in the real world?
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