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.
Our report summarises everything people told us, as well as setting out our conclusions and recommendations for Healthwatch, health and care services and other local partners with the goal of supporting positive change.
What we heard:
- 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.
Through surveys, focus groups, one to one conversations and dedicated events we ‘went to the people’ and received feedback from nearly 500 individuals. Central to our work was collaboration with community groups to capture ‘every voice’ so that we can better understand how health inequalities are impacting local people and use this insight to support effective decision-making.
Further details on what we heard are set out in the supporting reports that present the findings and messages from each of the engagement activities we undertook as part of the Listening Tour:
- Listening Tour – Observation Walks Report
- Homeless Truths: Services and support for people living in Emergency & Temporary Accommodation (ETA) in Eastbourne
- Listening Tour – Homelessness Report
- Listening Tour – Long Survey Report
- Listening Tour – Short Survey Report
- Listening Tour – Commuter Survey Report
- Listening Tour – Protected Characteristics Groups Report
- Listening Tour – Food Bank Report
- Listening Tour – The Big Health and Care Question Time Report
- End of Life Care Survey Report (undertaken by St Wilfrid’s Hospice)
Veronica Kirwan, Executive Director of Healthwatch East Sussex commented:
“Healthwatch Listening Tours are a fantastic opportunity to gather in-depth feedback from a targeted area. Local people were keen to share their feedback on a range of services and it has given us insight into effective examples of health and care, as well as where services should be improved.
We were told about positive outcomes delivered by health and care services and the dedicated professionals working in them, as well as the support offered by community groups and volunteers. However, challenges remain such as long wait times, accessibility and standards of care.
We encourage residents to continue to speak up about their health and care so they can have their say in what the future of services should look like.”
Through our report recommendations, we are calling for:
- Sussex Health and Care to engage with the public further to capture public and patient feedback in all decision-making and to raise awareness of social care provision.
- Health and Care commissioners and providers to strengthen collaboration and partnership activity with voluntary organisations and community groups to make them sustainable and able to support marginalised communities.
- Increased action on delivering inclusivity within services and adherence to the Equality Act 2010 and NHS Accessible Information Standard, as a means of reducing barriers to access and health inequalities.
- Improvements in the information made available to those with protected characteristics about their rights when seeking to access statutory services.
As well as our report, we will be following up on what we have heard ourselves by:
- Returning to community support groups to strengthen relationships, raise awareness and review whether health and care services have improved for them.
- Delivering Information and Signposting drop-ins at various Eastbourne sites to help people with their health and care enquiries, including migrants and refugees.
- Developing a project to assess the physical and sensory accessibility of GP surgeries in Eastbourne.
- Planning a ‘One Year On’ event in mid-2023 to update residents and partners on the progress that has been made since the Listening Tour.
Finally, we would like to thank everyone that contributed to the delivery of our Listening Tour and to the public and patients who shared their experiences.
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We want to hear if it has been good, bad or indifferent.
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