To help NHS and social care staff understand what is working and what could be better when it comes to the support they provide, we have looked at the views that 17,000 people shared with us between July and September 2018.
We received a mix of both positive and negative comments, and continued to hear about top issues, such as getting a GP appointment, registering with a GP and hospital delays.
However, our briefing also looks at emerging issues in our evidence across four areas of health and social care, how this is affecting people, as well as the steps we’re taking to make a difference.
Messages for services: emerging issues in our evidence
1. GPs – people want to be kept informed
Poor communication between GPs and their patients, leave people feeling confused about what is happening with their care. This is an issue commonly raised by people waiting to see a specialist, and individuals who don’t know what to expect about treatment.
2. Pharmacists - minimising issues with prescriptions
People tell us pharmacies provide good advice but issues with prescriptions can have a detrimental impact. Common problems include the wrong medication, delays when collecting, and repeat prescriptions suddenly being stopped.
3. A&E staff – the impact of misdiagnosis and poor communication
There have been situations where staff in A&E and on hospital wards have misdiagnosed patients with cancer or broken bones. This resulted in people being seen by multiple services until they got the answers. Unfortunately, there can also be serious consequences, and we heard of two cases where people died because of delays to treatment.
The impact of misdiagnosis is made worse by poor communication. For example, people have told us that they struggle to access British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters even though this is a legal requirement.
The impact not having a BSL interpreter had on one lady
“I was about 12 weeks pregnant when I started bleeding. Because it was my first pregnancy, I wasn’t sure if this is normal so I called 111 through text relay as I am deaf. They advised me to go to A&E. When I arrived at A&E I asked the receptionist to provide a BSL interpreter… I kept asking for the interpreter repeatedly but never got one. When I saw the doctor, we had to communicate through gestures, so I didn’t really have any idea what was going on...The doctor then told me that everything was fine, I should go home and rest and not to work tomorrow. I went home, but after a few weeks as I didn’t feel right, I felt like the hospital had missed something. When I went to see my GP, the doctor looked at the computer screen and told me that I had had a miscarriage. I was in total shock as the hospital never said anything.”
Patient story, Healthwatch Birmingham
4. Mental health professionals – support in a crisis isn’t always adequate
People experiencing a mental health crisis have told us about not being able to access the support they need. Many have told us they turn to A&E for urgent care but some only receive treatment for their physical symptoms. They either didn’t get to see the mental health crisis team, or only had a ten-minute slot with staff because of busy caseloads. We’ve also heard of individuals who have been left unattended with their medication in A&E after taking an overdose.
What can happen when mental health care is inadequate
“A resident attended A&E after attempting to take their own life. They were assessed by the Mental Health Liaison Team, and left in an assessment room alone… When a nurse came to see them, the individual told them that they didn't feel safe to go home… A different nurse then brought the individual the medication that had previously been taken from them, and left them with it. The individual said they then took the medication, and thinks they passed out for a couple of hours… When the individual came around, they went to the nurses’ station to tell them what had happened, and that they didn't feel safe…The individual then rang their GP to tell them that they were still at A&E, and that they had overdosed. A nurse came and saw them, and told them they would do their observations, and then that they would be discharged.”
Patient story, Healthwatch York
5. Social care – help answering questions
More people and their loved ones are asking us for information about care at home to stay independent, finding a care home, as well as how to get funding support. There’s also been an increase in questions about how to access equipment, such as incontinence pads, wheelchairs, and home adjustments.
What are we doing?
Using the feedback from thousands of people about their experiences of health and social care, we’ve shared this insight to help inform NHS England’s Long Term Plan. The plan will set out the future ambitions of the health service over the next decade.
Read our report to find out more about what people have told us, as well as how we’re tackling these issues in partnership with other organisations.