Summary of report content
Healthwatch Hertfordshire undertook mystery shopping about the services provided by Connect Health which provides a local integrated musculoskeletal service in West Hertfordshire., following a deep dive by the local CCG, who had heard about delays to treatment, a rise in complaints and a rise in quality alerts as Connect Health had received 40% more referrals than was originally expected by HVCCG.
Healthwatch Hertfordshire undertook a mystery shopping exercise, working with Connect Health to develop two dummy patient records. They also undertook a survey to which 28 people responded about the service provided at the local clinic.
Overall volunteers had very positive experiences of the Connect Health PhysioLine service both with the booking of the appointments and with the clinical telephone consultation. Calls to the Patient Care Co-Ordination Centre were answered promptly and the volunteers felt that the operators gave a high level of service with a professional but friendly manner.
A gap in the records (no email address for one of the dummy records) was picked up by the operator and both callers reported that all GDPR requirements were correctly followed. The ‘patients’ waited less than a week for their clinical telephone consultation appointments. The clinical telephone consultations were also on time and handled professionally and empathetically.
There were 3 recommendations from the mystery shopping exercise, including information about the service, setting a standard time to call and ensuring that clinicians ask about the patient’s support network.
Overall, the patients completing the questionnaires had a good experience with the service. Many were highly complementary of the health professionals at Connect Health and their GP or consultant who referred them. This snapshot of patient views appears to confirm the initial feedback that led to this review as the few long-term patients expressed frustration with continuity of care and difficulties getting through to staff on the telephone. There is also no doubt that the pandemic has had an impact on people’s experiences of care. However, the improvements that Connect Health put in place at the beginning of 2020 seems to have positively impacted on patient experience both with call handling resulting in prompt appointments and with the clinical expertise that patients felt could be trusted.
There were four recommendations about providing detailed workout plans, ensuring that patients have information on how to get to the clinic, clarify what future arrangements there may be to support patients that find it difficult to travel to Wolsey House Clinic and provide information to patients about their treatment during lockdown.