Summary of report content
Healthwatch Worcestershire surveyed the public to find out about people’s experiences of health and care service during the Covid-19 Pandemic. The Survey was launched on 22nd April 2020 and closed on 23rd July 2020. During this period 2,473 people responded to the Survey
Generally, respondents were not having difficulty finding, understanding and keeping up to date with information about keeping themselves and others safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. A higher proportion of later respondents to the survey wanted information about looking after mental health and wellbeing, changes to the healthcare services that they usually access and managing existing health conditions than those who responded to the survey when it first came out.
People used mainstream media such as TV, radio and newspapers and online national information sources (e.g. Government and national NHS websites) more frequently than local online information sources. Over two in five of people with additional communication needs had not been able to find information and advice in the formats or languages needed.
There was a mixed picture in respect of the use of telephone and video appointments by GP and other online health services. When asked whether there were any positive changes to health services during the pandemic, 211 people rated this as the most positive change. However, this also posed challenges to others who, for a variety of reasons, either lacked confidence in or found it difficult to use the telephone, or didn’t have the technology to access online appointments
One in five of respondents said that Covid-19 was having a great deal or a lot of impact on their mental health and emotional wellbeing and over a quarter reported that it was having a moderate impact. Most people told us that they had not needed any support for their mental health and emotional well-being. Of those that did most had received this from their family and friends.
There has been a mixed picture in respect of experience of GP services during the pandemic period. It is positive that of those who had received communication from GPs nearly seven in ten rated it as excellent or good. 707 respondents who had needed to access GP services had found them easy to access. Whilst some praised GP surgeries, particularly for the introduction of telephone and video access, other had problems contacting the practice by phone or were dissatisfied with telephone and video appointments.
Seven in ten of people who had needed to access A&E found it easy to access. However, Healthwatch also heard from people about difficulties accessing planned treatment and outpatients’ appointments, many of which were postponed due to Covid-19. Dental services were unavailable except for emergency treatment for much of the period that the survey was open
The communication most frequently rated excellent or good, by respondents who had received communication about that service, were from Pharmacy, GP and Hospital Accident & Emergency (A&E) / Minor Injuries Unit (MIU). Communication received that was most frequently rated poor or very poor were from Mental Health services, Maternity Services, Planned Hospital Treatments and Therapists.
The services that were easiest to access were: Ambulance services, Pharmacy, Hospital (A&E), GP and NHS online. Services that people had needed but found it difficult to access were: Adult Mental Health, Therapists, Children and Young People Mental Health, Hospital Planned Treatments, NHS 111 (Phone) and Dentist.
Those people who didn’t access services mainly because they did not want to put pressure on the service, they were afraid of infection or their problem was minor.
There were 11 recommendations, mainly about better information that is tailored to the recipient and better communication from services to patients.