The latest Healthwatch East Sussex Annual Report summarises our activity and achievements in 2020-21 during a highly eventful year.
Over the last 12 months we have engaged with more East Sussex residents than ever before, capturing and relaying experiences and preferences on health and care services to commissioners and providers, helping them to understand the impacts of the pandemic and provide the support people require.
We raised awareness of challenges people face in accessing primary care, especially dentistry. We also captured the impact of visiting restrictions on those with family and friends in care homes. We collaborated with partners on the design of services to support homeless people and to the COVID-19 Outbreak Control Plan for East Sussex.
Over 4,000 people told us about their experience of lockdowns and the COVID-19 vaccination programme through our surveys. More than 1,400 people received follow-up wellbeing checks from us after being discharged from hospital and 300 people attended our webinars on the impacts of the pandemic on care homes and carers.
Our volunteers played a crucial role in delivering projects and providing us with grassroots intelligence on every aspect of health and care. Together they recorded over 2,200 hours or 275 days of time to Healthwatch activity, and we are very grateful for their dedication, support and expertise.
Twice as many people visited our website, engaged with us on social media or sent us a query compared to last year, as we took steps to provide dedicated COVID-19 and Vaccination Hubs on our website, refresh our newsletter, increase our bulletins and enhance our response to enquiries.
We used this insight to generate 11 reports detailing 57 recommendations that were shared with commissioners, providers and the public. We continue to share our insight and key messages through a diverse range of partnerships and boards.
John Routledge, the Healthwatch Executive Director says:
“Last year was momentous, not only for the impact on health and care, but on every aspect of people’s day to day lives. Our focus has been on supporting people throughout the pandemic and ensuring that the public and patient voice has been heard as services adapted their approach.
We would like to thank everyone who has shared their views and experiences with us over the last 12 months, and our partners for helping us gather the views of the public and put these at the heart of health and social care decision-making.
Our goal is to carry forward our progress and momentum into 2021-22, to continue to capture and represent the patient and public voice as services continue to evolve and develop.
I would like to thank our staff, board members and volunteers for their considerable efforts in delivering our projects and programmes, and for adapting at short notice to ever changing circumstances.”
Our report has been submitted to Healthwatch England, alongside reports from all local Healthwatch in England. We also submit our report to East Sussex County Council as commissioners of the service and share it with a wide range of our statutory and voluntary sector partners across East Sussex and beyond.