The Government has published updated objectives for the health service, which outline what it wants the NHS to achieve over the next 12 months.
Because people across England have spoken up about the improvements they want to see, Healthwatch have been able to shape the NHS’s objectives by making recommendations to the Government.
Involving communities in NHS decision-making
We shared 85,000 people’s views to help the NHS shape its plans for the next decade. Now the Government has asked for this trend to continue. The NHS will need to ensure that communities get a chance have their say to make local plans a success. It’s encouraging to see the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) recognise the value of public feedback in improving care.
Build public confidence in new technology
People tell us that it can be frustrating using technology to manage their health. One example which we raised with the Government, is that it’s not always possible to book online appointments to see a range of health professionals. We’re pleased to see the Government acknowledge these issues and agree that the NHS needs to look at how to overcome these challenges.
With the launch of NHS X, which aims to improve technology across the service, it’s vital that people get a chance to help design and test digital initiatives. This will not only build public trust, but also ensure that technology is created with people in mind.
What other recommendations did we make?
We are a statutory consultee, which means the Department of Health and Social Care must ask us what should be included in the NHS Mandate. We also suggested three other areas that the NHS should focus on to make health and social care better.
Ensure NHS targets meet people's needs
Over the past few years, we’ve called for more meaningful targets which take people’s experiences into account. Although guaranteed waiting times in A&E are important, our research shows that people value time to be assessed, talk about their treatment, and receive good quality care, above official waiting targets. NHS England has announced plans to test alternative measures. We’re calling for patients to help evaluate whether these changes work.
Listen to what people want from the future of the NHS workforce
People want to access a wider range of services, including the option to speak to peers facing similar issues. We want to see this reflected in the forthcoming NHS workforce strategy. This will be important if the health service is to address concerns about continuity of care and the level of empathy services are able to offer.
Demonstrating how learning from feedback is improving care
The NHS is getting better at learning from complaints, but there’s still more to do. It is important that the NHS demonstrates how people’s complaints have been used to improve services and to feedback to people who have raised concerns, what the NHS has done as a result.