Read our latest insight on health and care issues
Our projects and initiatives have generated insight on health and care issues which we have recently published in a number of reports setting out our key findings and recommendations.
Our recent publications include:
- The headline findings from our two week public engagement exercise as part of our 2022 ‘Listening Tour’ in Eastbourne.
- ‘Homeless Truths’ the health and wellbeing of individuals and families living in Emergency Accommodation.
- People’s experiences of Long COVID across Sussex
- The latest experiences of people seeking access to NHS dental services.
How do we use this insight?
We share our publications with decision-makers, such as NHS Sussex, East Sussex County Council and Voluntary and Community organisations to share insight, inform decisions and support service development that meets the needs and aspirations of local people.
Details of each of our initiatives and what you told us is set out in the sections below.
Learning from our 2022 Listening Tour in Eastbourne
During two weeks in October 2022, Healthwatch East Sussex used its first face-to-face ‘Listening Tour’ since 2019 to engage with Eastbourne residents and communities to hear people’s experiences of health and social care.
Through surveys, focus groups, one to one conversations and dedicated events we ‘went to the people’ and received feedback from nearly 500 individuals.
- People’s appreciation of the NHS was clear, with positive examples of support, advice, treatment and procedures. We heard numerous examples of the expertise, professionalism and compassion of staff in the NHS and wider health and care services, as well as staff and volunteers in local community groups.
- Common frustrations were waiting times, delays and poor communication. Nearly a third (32.3%) of 390 survey respondents were Unsure and 7% were Not Confident at all about accessing health and care services when they need them.
- Some health and care services were not easily accessible to those with disabilities or impairments.
- Specific user groups such as the homeless or migrant communities faced barriers when accessing health and care.
- We identified a lack of understanding amongst the public about who provides care services locally and the responsibilities of different organisations in commissioning and delivering care.
- The cost-of-living crisis is having an impact on people’s wellbeing, with 51.3% of survey respondents more anxious about the future and 34.4% having good quality sleep less often than before.
People’s experiences of Long COVID across Sussex
Long COVID is a legacy of the COVID virus for many people in Sussex, impacting on their day-to-day lives, as well as their physical and mental wellbeing.
Our Sussex-wide survey wanted to explore whether people are being offered support that meets their needs, both with health and the wider effects of long COVID, or whether they can find their own solutions. We also asked how people would like to be supported moving forwards.
- Long COVID symptoms vary widely, and many people experience more than one symptom. Fatigue/extreme tiredness was the most common severe impact, making it difficult or impossible to do normal activities.
- The mental health of four out of five of our respondents was affected by long COVID, with a third of these reporting a severe impact. The most common effects were low mood, anxiety and insomnia.
- Nearly half of the people we heard from (46.8%) reported a severe impact on their quality of life because of long COVID symptoms.
- The Post-COVID Assessment and Support Service (PCASS) delivered by the NHS in Sussex is viewed as helpful by a majority of those referred to it, but public and practitioner awareness of it needs to be raised, as does long COVID more generally. Patients are also trying functional medicine for long covid.
- The three changes most respondents wanted to see were a dedicated long COVID clinic, improved information for health professionals and improved information for the public about long COVID.
The Sussex Health and Care website offers more details on the support available for those with long COVID symptoms.
‘Homeless Truths’: Experiences of emergency and temporary accommodation in Eastbourne
In the autumn of 2022, we met with 48 of the 105 residents living at a single Emergency and Temporary Accommodation (ETA) site in Eastbourne for homeless people deemed eligible for housing by local authorities.
Our findings combine the views gathered from residents’ feedback, information and context from the accommodation provider, and the observations of HWES staff and volunteers.
- This Eastbourne ETA site provides several good practice examples of provision which can be a useful comparator in raising and maintaining standards across the sector. The staff also played an important role in listening to residents and providing emotional support.
- Many people in Emergency and Temporary Accommodation may feel lonely and can become socially isolated, even if staff are approachable. Residents are not generally allowed visitors in this type of accommodation, so it is more difficult to stay connected to family and friends.
- Providing accessible information prior to arrival about the accommodation and local support services (statutory and voluntary) would improve the experiences of both residents and staff in connecting more quickly to appropriate help and support.
- Almost 50% of residents said they are living with a mental health condition. Feedback from those who had accessed mental health services was mostly positive. Critical feedback focused mainly on significant waiting times or unreliable call-backs.
- Local voluntary and community organisations accessed by residents received unanimous praise. Feedback highlighted their essential role in providing support and connecting people to other statutory and voluntary services.
Experiences of accessing NHS dentistry across Sussex
In January 2023, the three Sussex Healthwatch (Brighton & Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex) ran a short pan-Sussex poll to explore whether improvements in dentistry provision announced in November 2022 were being experienced by patients and the public on the ground.
220 people responded to our poll, including 107 from East Sussex.
It was pleasing to hear that nearly a third of respondents were satisfied/very satisfied (29.5%) with the treatment they received when they were able to access it and that one in four (25.5%) accessed NHS dental treatment without any issues.
Of concern to Healthwatch is:
- Most people (62.3%) were not confident about their ability to access NHS dental services over the next 12 months, either for themselves or others.
- Nearly half of the people we heard from (45%) told us they were dissatisfied/very dissatisfied about their ability to find a dentist offering NHS treatments.
- More than two-in-five (41.8%) were dissatisfied/very dissatisfied with the waiting times to see someone.
- Over a third of respondents (35.9%) were dissatisfied/very dissatisfied with information on services being accurate and up-to-date.
- Nearly one-in-fourteen people (6.8%) needed dental treatment but were unable to afford to pay the NHS dental charges.
- Approximately one-fifth of people (21.8%) told us they had paid for treatment privately because they had been unable to find or access a dentist able to provide NHS treatment.
Tell us your experiences of local health and care services
We always want to hear the experiences of local people when they use health and care services.
You can share your experience by leaving a review on our Feedback Centre at any time and tell us how things were for you. What was good and what could be improved?
You can also share your experience or seek further support with health and care enquiries from our Information & Signposting service via:
Telephone: 0333 101 4007 Monday – Friday (10am-2pm)