Accessing Health and Social Care - The Public Opinion

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire conducted a research as part of an outreach project ‘Just Ask 2014’ between March and October 2014. It explored local residents’ experience of accessing health and social care services, such as hospitals and GPs in their local area using a snapshot survey. The aim was to identify areas of good practice and highlight areas for improvement. 800 people were spoken to and 334 people completed the survey. The majority of participants were female and their ages ranged from 14 years to 95 years. All participants either resided or accessed services in Central Bedfordshire. The research found that most residents were satisfied with the services they received from their GP practice; 73% felt that their GP listened to their concerns and 8% felt their concerns were rarely listened to. 59% of residents felt that they were given enough information to make an informed decision, although 12% felt that they didn’t. Majority of residents cited frustration with trying to make an appointment by phone early in the morning and being told that all appointments had been allocated, although 67% stated that it was easy to get an appointment to see the GP. People who had experienced hospital services were satisfied with the service they had received. Majority of waiting times were within the targets. Those who had experienced longer wait would have liked to be informed to reduce anxiety levels. Positive comments regarding specific services were also received. 79% of the residents who accessed social care services found it ‘easy’ or ‘acceptable’ to access the care and support they needed, although 29% found it difficult to get this service. There is an indication that people are unaware of how to access the service initially and also that the services took time to be implemented. Healthwatch made several recommendations in the report including that additional research is carried out to determine why it is that the majority of people do not use the online booking system. HWCB would also recommend that all surgeries promote their online booking system and consider its future use for booking emergency appointments. Each surgery would benefit from more people booking online as this would ease pressure on telephone bookings. HWCB asked NHS England, Healthwatch England, Central Bedfordshire Council, Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, Luton and Dunstable University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to give their response to the recommendations and their plan of action.

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General details

Report title 
Accessing Health and Social Care - The Public Opinion
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire
Date of publication 
Thursday, 12 March, 2015
Date evidence capture began 
Sunday, 2 March, 2014
Date evidence capture finished 
Thursday, 2 October, 2014
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Continuity of care
Health and safety
Staff levels
Staff training
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Out of hours
Secondary care services 
Acute services with overnight beds
Social care services 
Adult social care
Home care / domiciliary care
Residential care home

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not known
Does the information include staff's views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.