Behind closed doors

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Bedford Borough reported on a survey they carried out online and by phone during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key conclusions and recommendations included:

  • Future communication plans must consider in greater detail how views are sought from seldom heard communities, particularly looking at those who are digitally excluded.
  • The use of terms such as ‘High Risk’ and ‘Shielding’ need to have clear definitions which are shared across the local population to ensure compliance and a sound understanding.
  • The pandemic led to healthcare being delivered differently. Whilst understanding the rationale for this, people reported feeling ‘rushed and not listen to’.
  • Whilst looking at additional communication needs and risk, there also needs to be consideration under Public Sector Equality Duty to cover those that are protected by the Equality Act 2010.
  • A significant number of people remained concerned about accessing Emergency and Outpatient treatment. People need to be assured that treatment is available and safe to access.
  • Two thirds of those asked felt that impact on their mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic ranged between moderate and affecting them greatly. More information and support on mental health was needed and further advertisement of the current support already available.
  • Local schemes and community activities should be adapted to reduce social isolation and loneliness as a strong objective moving forward.
  • The wider development and use of social media as a provider of information was welcomed and should continue for the foreseeable future, for those able to access it.
  • A wider piece of work is needed to look at the specific needs for those that are digitally excluded as well as those requiring sound bytes, in the cases of visually impaired people and those with low level of literacy, and alternative methods of communication should be provided to comply after completion of Equality Impact Assessments (EIA).

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General details

Report title 
Behind closed doors
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Bedford Borough
Date of publication 
Monday, 19 October, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice
Secondary care services 
Mental health services 
Psychiatry / mental health (other services)
Urgent and emergency care services 
Accident & emergency

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Not known
Age group 
Specific ethnicity if 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? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their 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.