What are people’s biggest health and social care issues for 2015?

Our annual survey of local Healthwatch priorities reveals the top health and social care issues for the public across England for 2015.
A group of women wearing Healthwatch badges standing outside a hospital

Improving access to GPs

Being able to get an appointment with a GP is the number one priority for the NHS to address over the next year, according to a survey of local Healthwatch.

Asked to outline the biggest health and care issues for their local residents, our network of 152 local organisations identified people’s struggle getting to see their family doctor as the key concern for 2015.

In total 63 local Healthwatch flagged primary care services as their focus, citing reports from the public about poor appointment booking systems, short appointment slots and poor staff attitude, particularly from receptionists.  

Anna Bradley, our Chair, said:

“It’s not surprising to hear access to GPs coming out as the top issue. Everywhere I go I hear about people’s frustrations getting an appointment with their doctor.

“There are lots of ideas on the table at the moment about how this can be improved, from evening and weekend opening to setting new targets around guaranteed waiting times, but the real key here is to ask people how they want to be able to access primary care.

“Over the next year lots of local Healthwatch will be having this discussion locally and at national level we will be giving people a chance to share their views with decision makers – whether they want GP drop-in centres put in supermarkets or 24 hour access by Skype.”

Greater focus around discharge planning

The second most important issue was ensuring that people are given the support they need to help them recover properly when they leave a hospital or care home came.

This will require a much greater focus on discharge planning and greater communication between services, with local Healthwatch focusing on challenging providers to improve current practices to ensure everyone experiences a safe and dignified discharge.

Ensuring people are properly engaged and involved in discussions around changes to local services

In at number three, local Healthwatch said they would be focusing on ensuring local commissioners properly engage and involve their communities in the crucial conversations around changes to local health and care services.

Listening to the people they serve about how and why they currently use services and having an open conversation about options for the future is the only way those in charge of hospitals, GP surgeries and care services can truly co-design sustainable services.

What else is on the list?

Other issues that appeared in the top ten include access to mental health services, the quality of domiciliary care and complaints handling by health and social care organisations.  

The people’s top 10 health priorities for 2015 according to local Healthwatch are:

  1. Access to GPs
  2. Hospital Discharge
  3. Service changes issues and the impact of the Better Care Fund
  4. Involvement of children and young people in health and care decisions
  5. Quality of care homes / residential care
  6. Access to children’s and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)
  7. Access to adult mental health services
  8. Dementia services
  9. Domiciliary care
  10. Complaints

Everything Healthwatch says and does is informed by our connections to people in every town, city and county in the country. This list of priorities compiled by local Healthwatch will therefore shape our work over the next year to put people at the heart of their care.

This list was compiled from a survey of all 152 local Healthwatch conducted during in November and December this year.

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