Healthwatch in Sussex helps patients deliver early impact by directly engaging patients with the NHS
Healthwatch in Sussex brought together 31 Sussex patients with the Outpatient transformation team, NHS Sussex, over the course of four two-hour workshops earlier this year. Workshop participants were able to offer their views and opinions directly to the NHS Sussex team, regarding plans to make changes to the outpatient system. To find out what we did and how we did it, see sections at the bottom of this article.
“The outpatient system is currently under pressure, with a huge increase in people needing appointments, delays for patients needing care, and some patients being left for months without knowing where they are in the system. Healthwatch welcomed this opportunity for patients to directly help deliver improvements while making it clear to the NHS what isn’t currently working and making suggestions for what needs changing.” Michelle Kay, Project Lead, Healthwatch Brighton and Hove.
How have people been affected by the current outpatient system?
“I have been notified of results months and months later.”
“The patient shouldn’t have to go through the issue again and again.”
“My partner is my carer but was told to sit outside. I am useless without her – she is my memory.”
“In the last six months my appointments have been booked, cancelled, and rebooked.”
“I am the sole carer for my mother who lives in a rural area. Travelling is difficult as my mother is in a wheelchair.”
“We need to give clinicians time to know about their patients – they don’t even know why you are there!”
“It is not individuals; it is the system.”
What did NHS Sussex want to achieve
NHS Sussex also highlighted that the current system needs change and improvement. This is partly due to a 20% increase in the numbers of outpatients between 2021-2022. The planned changes aim to reduce unnecessary hospital attendances, enable GPs to receive earlier expert advice, and give patients more control over their own care.
“We wanted to understand what matters to patients and how we need to adapt our programme accordingly. These workshops were well attended with all participants making a valuable contribution. The discussions and points raised were of huge value to our programme plan going forward. Overall, the workshops and deliberative engagement process exceeded our expectations, and we are incredibly grateful to everyone involved.” Head of Outpatient Transformation, NHS Sussex.
What difference has been made?
Healthwatch Brighton and Hove presented findings and recommendations from these workshops, on behalf of Healthwatch in Sussex. NHS Sussex responded that the views and opinions of workshop participants had already made impact. These are highlighted in the Healthwatch report:
NHS Sussex are also represented at the NHS England “national missed appointments” meeting. Sharing feedback from the Sussex outpatient project is having an impact on the national system.
What we did
Healthwatch in Sussex (a collaboration between Healthwatch Brighton and Hove, Healthwatch East Sussex, and Healthwatch West Sussex) was commissioned by the Outpatient Transformation Team, at NHS Sussex. We were asked to run workshops with the purpose of gaining participant views on four new initiatives being explored to improve the Outpatient experience.
The four proposed initiatives are part of NHS England’s Outpatient Recovery and Transformation Programme, namely: