Summary of report content
Healthwatch Waltham Forest undertook a survey about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on residents to which 101 people responded. This report is based on the feedback of 101 people, who completed the survey between April and July 2020.
Almost a third of respondents (30%) may ‘possibly' have contracted the virus, with 18-24 year olds the most likely as a group. Those with disabilities or mental health conditions cite the poorest levels of physical health – by a significant margin. Concerns about infection risk and safe social distancing are widespread.
Almost half of the respondents indicate some level of disruption to services, with accounts of cancelled or delayed treatment or tests. A lack of clarity from services has resulted in anxiety for many. A notable number of people have cancelled their own appointments, with infection risk a key concern. Feedback about GPs, including on accessibility and support is mixed. Online consultations have ‘exceeded expectations’ on the whole. NHS 111 receives a notable volume of praise, for phone and online services.
Major contributors to poor mental wellbeing are uncertainty about the future – notably jobs, finances and the welfare of others. Younger people may be particularly at risk, with concerns about graduation and future prospects prominent. Those with social support networks, activities and routines are more resilient than those without. Services such as talking therapy have proven value, however restriction to remote appointments has discouraged uptake.
Many people feel isolated from family and friends, though technology has greatly helped. Household relationships are more likely to have become strained. The ability to volunteer or contribute has lifted the self-esteem of many. Those with gardens or access to outside spaces appear to be more resilient. A significant number of people (22%) report reduced earnings and 19% have no disposable income, after paying for essentials. Several groups (BAME, 18- 24, those with disabilities or poor mental health) are adversely affected.
The vast majority of respondents (97%) find it ‘definitely’ or ‘somewhat easy’ to find clear and understandable information. However, there is criticism over the clarity and consistency of communication. Most people have access to smartphones, computers and internet, and the vast majority are comfortable with their use. Those with mental health conditions are significantly disadvantaged, compared with others.
When compared with White/White British respondents, people from minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to:
- Have ‘possibly’ contracted Covid-19.
- Have a stated long term health condition.
- Be worried about their own health.
- Be worried about the health of friends or family members
- Be worried about jobs or finances.
- Have lost earnings and income.
- Access the internet via a smartphone
They are less likely to:
- Have a stated mental health condition.
- Have a stated caring or parenting responsibility.
- Have disposable income.
- Feel sad about not having access to leisure and facilities.
- Own or have access to a smartphone.
- Own or have access to a laptop computer.
- Have internet at home.
The report contains nine recommendations