Summary of report content
Healthwatch Redbridge undertook a COVID-19 report, with research taking place between March and September 2020. The research was undertaken to understand the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on people living in Redbridge. Specifically, to identify any issues or areas of concern with local NHS health and social care services. The report contains information received by 188 members of the public through an online survey, focus groups and comments relating specifically to COVID-19 received by the signposting service.
The report found that there was confusion amongst respondents as to whether they met the criteria for shielding, as they considered themselves at high risk from COVID-19 but had not received a letter advising them to shield. A third of respondents said that they were caring for someone who would be considered at high risk from COVID-19. Again, not all of the people they cared for had been advised to shield, meaning some people may have missed out on support they were entitled to.
Healthwatch Redbridge found that whilst digital based services have had a positive impact on some patients and continued to provide appropriate appointments through the pandemic it does not cater to all. Notably, electronic triage consultation systems, such as E-consult, are not offered in other languages or access options which can make them difficult to use. More broadly, Healthwatch Redbridge found that there was a range of experience with medical appointments during the pandemic and that there was some level of confusion and concern regarding changes to appointment times.
Healthwatch Redbridge recommends that services need to clearly acknowledge people's frustrations when communication goes wrong. Patients and carers should have a choice of communication routes available to them where they have communication support needs met.