“It’s not always people that are hard to reach…services are too”
Healthwatch East Sussex (HWES) launched their second health and social care Listening Tour for Peacehaven and Newhaven on Monday 11th June 2018.
For two weeks, Healthwatch staff and volunteers delivered an exciting programme of activity to talk to local people about their views and experiences of health and social care services.
According to Public Health statistics, the Havens have some of the worst health and care problems in East Sussex. Accident and emergency admissions, self-harm and mental health problems in young people are among the highest in the county. The number of local residents taking up health checks is among the lowest.
In addition, the Havens have the highest percentage of unpaid carers providing over 20 hours care a week in East Sussex. There is a high rate of learning disabled adults in settled accommodation and low levels of public satisfaction with making GP appointments.
Healthwatch was also interested in what helps local people maintain good health and stay well. Excess weight in 10-11 year olds is being recorded in 35% of cases and 21% of children in the Havens live in low income families.
There were lots of ways for Havens’ residents, community leaders or professionals to get involved in the Listening Tour. Healthwatch staff and volunteers spent time at local events every day from Monday 11th to Sunday 24th June. There were also opportunities to participate through our website, social media, postal survey or by telephone.
Events attended include:
- ‘Hear to Listen’ sessions in the local Library and Town Council Café
- Information stands at various community events including ‘Fish Fest’ Local Football tournament, Car Boot Fair and The Big Park.
- Visiting community groups and social events including: Newhaven Social Club, Tea Dance, toddler groups and walking football sessions.
- Talking to patients attending GP practices in Newhaven
- Local church drop- in coffee morning; and
- Other specific activities to engage with individuals and groups, traditionally hard to engage.
Overwhelmingly, we heard throughout the tour the difficulties people experienced in accessing appointments in primary care and for hospital referral appointments.
‘It’s not always people that are hard to reach…services are too’
We also heard lots of praise and support for the local services people used at Lewes Victoria Community Hospital and Newhaven Polyclinic.
People who completed our on-line survey reported (approximately 49%) being satisfied with local services, those negative responses were again cited as difficulties in getting GP appointments and many expressed concerns about local plans to build additional housing, impacting on what they perceived to be already stretched GP practices.
Informal networks of people offering outreach to homeless people and rough sleepers described a concept of homeless people being ‘invisible’ to some statutory agencies, especially in Newhaven. Other vulnerable groups identified included potentially large numbers of elderly people (not exclusively) in Peacehaven that are socially isolated. HWES is following up this enquiry with specific activity in Newhaven and Peacehaven during the summer to understand the extent of the issue.
Another key area of concern people spoke about was access to Mental Health services. This featured in our paper surveys and through face to face discussions with local people. People spoke about untimely interventions, long waiting times to access services and gaps in support when you do not meet the criteria for high end support or lower level interventions, leaving some people ‘waiting to go into crisis’ before they can access help and support.
The Listening Tour also presented opportunities for our partners to be involved. Staff from High Weald Lewes Haven (HWLH) NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) attended six activities, following both their own priority engagement lines of enquiry i.e. looking at Frailty in the area and HWES key lines of enquiry. We were also joined by the safeguarding development team, SCAMS Awareness team and Health Trainers offering free health checks.
A full report of all the findings will be available by the end of September from our website. HWES would like to take this opportunity to thank our volunteers and partners for making this tour so successful and look forward to sharing the more detailed findings with our partners in due course.