Using the information people have raised with their local Healthwatch, we have identified the top five issues people want to see addressed over the next 12 months.
1. Mental health services
Access to, and quality of mental health services topped the list for a third year running, with 99 out of 152 (65%) local Healthwatch highlighting it as a major priority for their communities.
In particular, people want to see a change to the care and support available to children and young people. Communities have also told us that more needs to be done to ensure that people with mental health conditions are diagnosed in a timely and consistent manner, given support sooner, and are treated before they reach crisis.
2. Social care services
Adult social care, particularly support for the elderly and their carers, has come a close second with over half (51%) of local Healthwatch planning to do work on this issue in the next 12 months.
Issues that people have already raised with local Healthwatch include concerns about high staff turnover and a lack of training leading to poor care.
Help more people #SpeakUp for better care
The more that people share their ideas, experiences and concerns about NHS and social care, the more services can understand when improvements are needed.
This is why we have launched a campaign to encourage people to contact their local Healthwatch and speak up about their ideas and experiences about these and other issues to help make services better for their communities.
Last year, over 340,000 people spoke up about their experiences and shared their ideas with us. These views helped result in changes across England. In 2018, we want even more people to have their say.
3. Services working better together
In over a third of areas (34%) local Healthwatch will be looking at how services can work better together to deliver care, especially the implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STPs).
STPs aim to improve the way local services work together to better use existing resources to improve the quality of care and people’s health and wellbeing. Healthwatch across England are working to raise awareness of what STPs mean for local communities and to encourage people to have their say.
4. Hospital care
In 48 areas (32%) local Healthwatch are planning to look at people’s experience of using hospital services.
People have told local Healthwatch they feel they’re waiting too long when they visit A&E for immediate care and are not being given the support they need to help them recover properly when they leave hospital.
5. GP and dental services
Access to GP and dental services will be a priority for over a quarter (28%) of local Healthwatch in 2018. In some areas, people have told Healthwatch that booking an appointment to see a GP or an NHS dentist can be a significant challenge.
Poor access has a knock-on effect, as long waits to be seen by a doctor or dentist can prevent people from receiving the right diagnosis, treatment and even referral to specialist services.
Do you have an idea that could help improve health and social care?
If you have an idea that could help improve health and care for you, a loved one or your community, contact us and #SpeakUp about your experiences and ideas on how services can be improved. No matter how big or small the issue, we want to hear about it.
Imelda Redmond, National Director of Healthwatch England, said:
“We want to see all working in health and social care make it their personal New Year’s resolution for 2018 to work with people as partners in designing the future of services.
“Healthwatch helps improve care by making sure services hear people’s views - what is working for you and what is not. As we approach the 70th birthday of the NHS, If anyone has a story they want to share or an idea they think might help, I urge them to get involved and speak to their local Healthwatch.”