North Trafford Project: a report looking at inequalities in health service access in the north of the boroughDownload (PDF 1.16MB)
Summary of report content
Healthwatch Trafford wanted to assess whether barriers to health and care services in North Trafford are specific to certain groups, and whether they are linked to factors such as deprivation. They heard from 147 people and professionals in the North Trafford borough about their experiences of health and care before and during the pandemic.
The findings showed a difference between before and after COVID-19 began. Before the pandemic, people were largely happy with access to health and care services in North Trafford and the quality of treatment/care once they received it. One area of concern was access to GP appointments. This included issues such as having to call very early, two-to three-week waiting times, and not wishing to give detail to receptionists.
Within specific groups, underlying issues such as language barriers, literacy, and access to technology were often overcome through face-to-face appointments and did not emerge as a major concern pre-pandemic.
After the pandemic began, people noted a sharp difference in access, as might be expected due to the changes required to improve safety. These changes included fewer face-to-face appointments and a shift to remote appointments by phone and video call, the cancellation of community support visits where possible, and hospital and other diagnostic sessions being delayed.
The shift to remote appointments and confusion over upcoming booked appointments caused a lot of anxiety for people. Within the specific groups Healthwatch Trafford heard from, language barriers became an increased challenge due the difficulty of communicating remotely and understanding the processes required to get advice and treatment through digital channels. Those not familiar with technology also struggled, and often the experiences of two groups overlapped. For example, Healthwatch Trafford heard from ethnic minority participants who expressed concern over using technology due to language barriers, as well as older people who said they did not know how to use smartphones or the internet to arrange appointments and access information.
Healthwatch Trafford make five recommendations in this report.