In 2015/16, the 152 local Healthwatch across England engaged over 380,000 people to find out their views about health and social care, and helped to signpost a further 220,000 people to the right place for their needs.
Collectively they also visited more than 3,500 local hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes to find out if they are working for people, and published over 1,450 reports about what people want and need from health and care.
This demonstrates a substantial public appetite for involvement in shaping health and social care services. Local Healthwatch help to bring people and professionals together to put these views at the heart of changes to the NHS, resulting in services beginning to respond to local people
With big changes ahead, Healthwatch is committed to helping people voice what they expect from future health and care services and supporting those in charge of NHS reforms to act on these views.
Drawing on the wealth of evidence collected by the network, we have been able to bring local views to national attention, helping to inform ongoing changes to primary, secondary and social care services across the country.
Every Voice Matters, our Annual Report to Parliament for 2015/2016, published today, outlines the ways in which the Healthwatch network has worked with people up and down the country to inform how services are being improved. For example:
Local Healthwatch have put people’s views at the centre of Government plans to improve children’s mental health services, challenging local decision makers to develop plans in partnership with young people as they look to implement the findings of the Department of Health’s Mental Health Taskforce’s ‘Future in Mind’ report.
At a national level we have seen a number of initiatives including the GP Forward View reflect and respond to patient feedback gathered through the Healthwatch network - including increasing the role of pharmacists, providing enhance mental health support through GP practices and encouraging greater use of technology.
Helping communities in Greater Manchester to have their say about devolution through running a series of workshops with the public about what health and care services should look like in the future and how they could be designed to specifically cater for the health and wellbeing needs of local people.
Our Interim Chair, Jane Mordue, said:
“During the past 12 months, the public have shown just how willing they are to share their experiences. What they want now is to see how this feedback is shaping care.
“It is clear that everyone has recognised the pressure the NHS and care services are under, and they want to do their bit to help.
“They are not shy about saying what they think needs to change now and in the future, but they are pragmatic and are not suggesting ideas that risk breaking the bank.
“Indeed where public engagement is being used to shape the redesigning of services around what consumers want and will use rather than what commissioners assume people need, there is huge potential to make things more efficient.
“It has been encouraging to see that, as people’s willingness to share their experiences with Healthwatch grows, so does the appetite of professionals to listen. But with more change on the horizon it must become the norm for them to be involved early in the decision making process.”