Healthwatch East Sussex (HWES) are the local independent watchdog for health and social care services. We gather feedback from local residents, both good and bad, and make recommendations to change services for the better.

In March 2023 we published our 2022 Eastbourne Listening Tour Report. This report highlighted what we had heard from Eastbourne residents about the difficulties some faced when accessing their GP Surgery.

In response we designed a series of Accessibility Audits at GP surgeries to understand the local landscape, raise awareness and identify best practice.

By Healthwatch East Sussex

This report summarises our findings from the audits and our subsequent recommendations.

We found:

  • The pathway surfaces surrounding three of the seven sites were in a poor condition, making access to the practice entrance difficult.
  • Adequate space for disabled parking was only available at three of the seven sites visited.
  • All seven entrances, reception and waiting room areas were observed as being obstacle free.
  • Only four of the seven sites visited had hearing loops installed and only one of these had procedures in place to regularly check that the hearing loop is on and working.
  • The quality of signage varied throughout the seven sites. Only two were observed to make use of large print, imagery and high colour contrast signage.
  • All of the seven sites that we visited were accessible via public transport, with a bus route within 0.2 miles (1000ft) of the location. Four of the seven also had train stations nearby.
  • The interior and flooring of all seven sites were observed as being consistent in color, pattern and materials making the spaces appear clear and non-disorienting.

What we did

Between July and October 2023, Healthwatch East Sussex staff and volunteers visited seven GP practice sites within Eastbourne.

During the visits conducted an audit checklist and spoke with members of staff and patient volunteer groups. The aim of these visits was to:

  1. Develop a snapshot of the current physical accessibility and adaptations of GP surgeries in Eastbourne, so practices can understand their own access issues and those affecting others.
  2. Raise awareness of access requirements and obligations with GP practices and assess how these are, and could be delivered at surgery sites.
  3. Identify best practice examples of accessibility provision and adaptations that can be shared between practices to support individual and collective improvement.
  4. Encourage change and improvements in accessibility and usability for all service users, both now and on an ongoing basis. 

Amy Galea, Chief Primary Care Officer, NHS Sussex said:

“We are pleased to see the positive findings in the report on accessibility of GP services in the Eastbourne area and thank our colleagues at Healthwatch for the recommendations. We recognise that while some factors are restricted by things outside of practice’s control, such as external pathways, there are still some areas of improvement we can work on, which will help everyone access services as easily as possible. NHS Sussex continues to support GP practices in Sussex to improve accessibility for patients, including working with them to upgrade GP websites and sharing learning and best practice.”

Next steps:

  • This summary report and our recommendations will be shared with the public, services, commissioners, and the local authority to encourage further work and discussions to take place to improve physical accessibility at Eastbourne GP surgeries.
  • Healthwatch East Sussex will continue to work with local practices to raise awareness of access requirements and obligations and encourage change and improvements in accessibility and usability for all service users.
  • To build on the good work of the pilot project, Healthwatch East Sussex will look to further develop the audits and undertake these in health and care services setting across the county.

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)

View the report

Click the link below to download the report

HWES Eastbourne GP Accessibility Report Final Download File (pdf 656.27 KB)
EASY READ HWES Eastbourne GP Accessibility Report Final Download File (pdf 2.04 MB)

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