Our year 2018-19: How your views are helping to make care better

Over 336,000 people shared their views with Healthwatch about their experience of health and social care, including the changes that they would like to see made following the release of the NHS Long Term Plan. Take a look at last year's highlights.
Man holding a baby
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, Chair of Healthwatch England

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Views from over 336,000 people have resulted in over 7,200 recommendations made to services, 29% of which are already implemented and making a difference. Read more about what the Healthwatch network got up to in our latest annual report.

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Influencing the future of the NHS

Between March and June 2019, Healthwatch asked people #WhatWouldYouDo to improve services locally following the release of the NHS Long Term Plan.

We heard from over 40,000 people about the changes they'd like to see and how they can be implemented locally.

Seven ideas people shared with us to help improve the NHS

  1. High-quality care for all
    Making sure that access to support for issues like dementia, autism and mental health improves.
  2. Better access to appointments
    More appointment flexibility as well as the opportunity to discuss multiple health issues in one appointment.
  3. Support available when needed
    Shorter waits between follow-up appointments to stop health conditions getting worse and more opportunities for peer support to learn how others deal with the challenges and complications.
  4. 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.
  5. Better personalised care
    To be treated as individuals with all their needs considered and more personalised information about how to look after themselves
  6. Only ask once
    Improved sharing of medical records, so less time is spent repeating health issues and more time talking about treatment and support 
  7. Help with travel
    Those with limited access to transport want more thought given to how they travel to services far from home.
What people want from the next ten years of the NHS

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Video transcript - What people want from the next ten years of the NHS

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The evidence we gathered was shared with local NHS leaders, who will set out in their local plans how they have used the feedback from the public to inform changes to local services.

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Four more highlights from our year

Social care

With over 150,000 people petitioning the Government to take action, it’s clear that there is a demand from the public for a greater focus on this issue.

Although national plans regarding the future of social care have been delayed, we’re using people’s views to improve existing services and to inform how social care could work in the years to come. Our work on social care includes:

  • Calling on councils to ensure they are reviewing care plans for people with dementia.
  • Highlighting the challenges that carers have getting support.
  • Making sure care home residents can see a dentist.
  • Encouraging people to have their say about future social care – in particular highlighting their desire for more information and advice about services, and planning for care needs.

Read more on page 15 of the report

David and Georgina's story

Childhood sweethearts David and Georgina enjoyed a full and happy life together before Georgina was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013. As a result, David became her carer and in need of support from the health and social care system. Unfortunately, David recalls numerous times where they were let down

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Maternal mental health

After hearing from Healthwatch across the country that mental health is an issue of
major importance to communities, we launched our project to explore people’s experiences at different stages of life.

We kicked off the project by looking into people’s experiences of mental health before, during and after pregnancy.

1,738 women told us about their experience of mental health problems during or after pregnancy. Each story we heard was different and highlighted that every person’s experience is unique to them.

Read more on page 7 of the report

Everybody wants to hold the baby, but who holds the mum?

Mental health and the journey to parenthood

Read more about what parents told us about their experiences of mental health services and the changes they would like to see. 

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Celebrating our 4000+ volunteers

Our network is lucky enough to be supported by thousands of volunteers who give up their time to help improve care for their community. They do this by:

  • Speaking to people about their experiences of health and social care.
  • Providing people with information and advice about local services.
  • Helping collect research to shape future health and social care policy.
  • Supporting local Healthwatch with their day-to-day activities.

Healthwatch Brent volunteers Mary Evans and Margaret Oyemade visited a local scheme and discovered that residents were feeling unsafe because of antisocial behaviour happening in the area and intruders coming into properties. Thanks to their work, several changes have been made and residents feel safer and more confident in speaking to their Housing Officer and the police.

Read more on page 27 of the report

Become a Healthwatch volunteer

If you would like to help make a difference to people's experience of health and social care near you, contact your local Healthwatch to find out how you can get involved. 

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In focus: unpaid carers

Over seven million people play an important role in providing vital care for family members and friends. 

Whilst the Care Act 2014 provides certain rights to carers to ensure they have the correct support in place, our conversations with 5,000 people showed that this isn’t working in practice.

On average, carers have to wait two months before they can access support. Many carers aren’t aware of the support available or their right to an assessment.

Read more on page 19 of the report

Kate's* story

Kate's husband Pete* was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease. Kate tells us about her feeling of helplessness as services failed to give her the support her and her husband needed.

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Share your thoughts

You can help make health and care services better by sharing your experiences and ideas. Talk to your local Healthwatch.

Find your nearest Healthwatch