The value of listening: Our annual report 2022-23

In our 2022-23 annual report, we share the value that the public's voices bring to health and social care services. Read about our work and the next steps we plan to take.

Download our annual report

Our health and care system faces serious challenges. In every part of the system, access is an issue – one that disproportionately affects those who already face health inequalities. People have shared with us that they feel admin and communication can be slow, inefficient, and sometimes lacking empathy. And while we hear stories of excellent care, people’s experiences vary considerably.

It’s clearer than ever that it’s essential to listen to the voices of those using the NHS to bring about better care for the nation. Only through listening to the public will we shape an NHS and social care system that works for everyone, for the next decade and beyond.

In our 2022-23 annual report, we share the value those voices have already brought to health and social care services. Read about our work, and the next steps we plan to take, in our report below.

Our work in 2022-23

Over 380,000 people shared their experiences with Healthwatch nationally and locally. In doing so, they helped us make a real difference. We carried out work that highlighted quality and safety concerns, that tested if new policies are working in practice, and that uncovered hidden problems and emerging trends.

  • And we highlighted key issues, from the impact of the soaring cost of living on people’s healthcare to the “hidden waiting list” created by delays to GP referrals.
  • We highlighted the increasing issues people have getting mental health support, contributing to the release of the primary care recovery plan.
  • NHS England published a plan to improve care for Long Covid after people shared their stories with us.
  • There were updates to the guidance for GPs on six-week post-natal checks after we revisited the issue of maternal mental health.
  • The NHS ran a campaign around the NHS App and how it can help patients after we highlighted the need to increase confidence in the NHS.
  • The NHS announced changes to their contract with dentists, after our data showed widening inequalities.

Real stories drive our work

We’re able to make change thanks to people sharing their experiences – people like Katie, 24, who struggled to get a referral from her GP for endometriosis. 

She’d experience pain so bad she’d have to miss work. Sometimes her pain was so severe she ended up in A&E. But her GP told her it was nothing to worry about, and sent her home with painkillers. It took “months and months” of appointments before Katie could push her surgery to refer her specifically for endometriosis.

This dragged on for so long – having those experiences has made me super anxious to ask for help, but also taught me not to take no for an answer. It’s been really traumatic.

Katie and others like her deserve to be heard by the healthcare system. And in listening to the voices of patients, those making decisions about the NHS can better understand what is and isn’t working.

What’s next?

We’ve called for decision-makers to focus on:

  • Making the NHS easier to access and navigate
  • Tackling health inequalities
  • Building a patient-centred NHS culture

We stand ready to help. So over the next year we’ll keep reaching out to every part of society. We’ll focus on improving the issues that matter most to the public. And we’ll work with partners to help develop an NHS where, at every level, staff strive to listen to and learn from patients to make care safer and better.


Download our annual report "The value of listening".

The report is also available in Easy Read and Large Print. 

If you need this report in a different format, please email or call 030000 68 3000

Download the report
Download the easy read report
Download large print version

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