During June and July 2022, Healthwatch staff and volunteers undertook engagement ‘roadshows’, attending a number of community events and venues across East Sussex, often alongside our NHS colleagues.
We wanted to identify if health and care services are doing enough to listen to the public and patients, explore how they gather feedback and identify what could be improved so patients feel confident that their issues are heard and acted on. Our report sets out what people told us.
- Many people don’t know how to give feedback about their health and care experience and/or have never been asked for it.
- Healthwatch East Sussex is not widely known by residents in the county.
- More should be done to make people feel like they are listened to when it comes to their health and care needs.
- Many respondents stated that they were not confident that the NHS or local authority would act upon their opinions.
- Comments made to Healthwatch show that many patients are unhappy about how inaccessible some health and care services currently are.
- When individuals are able to see their GP, dentist or other providers, they often receive a very good service.
The results of our survey show that most residents have not given feedback and have not heard of Healthwatch. Whilst many people do feel they are listened to, a larger number said that they do not feel that the NHS or local authority would act upon their opinions.
A rating matrix was used to capture people’s different experiences of health and care services, anywhere from “poor” to “excellent”. Opticians and pharmacists were rated the highest with NHS 111 and GPs rated the lowest. The limited accessibility of certain services was mentioned on numerous occasions as the reason why people rated a service as poor or why they do not feel listened to.
We heard that:
- People who had given feedback had done so directly to their service or using a feedback form after an appointment. Some people did know how to leave feedback or make a complaint.
- The majority (66.9%) of respondents told us that they had not given feedback, stating that they had never been asked or did not know how, and others mentioned that they would value finding out how to leave feedback.
- 9% of respondents had not heard of Healthwatch or our Feedback Centre.
- The number of people who felt they were listened to or not when it came to their health and care needs was mixed, but more people believed that their opinions would not be acted upon.
- Further comments highlighted that many people had negative experiences of accessing and using health and care and many of these related to GP services. Despite this, the individuals who had been able to access services told us that they were generally happy with the service they had received.
John Routledge, Executive Director of Healthwatch East Sussex commented:
“We want to ensure that everyone has a voice and knows the importance of speaking up about their health and social care needs. Finding out that most people do not leave feedback about their health and care services is disappointing.
Low awareness of Healthwatch may impact on this and so we will now step up efforts to promote our services so more people can leave feedback, feel like they are listened to and see actions that change services for the better.
We are aware of the current difficulties for accessing health and care services and will keep feeding this back to local commissioners and providers. However, it is positive to hear that when people can access these services the experience is generally good.”
This Healthwatch report highlights findings that can help residents be more aware of the importance of sharing feedback as well as showing the NHS and local authority that residents need to be listened to more.
We are calling for:
- Encouragement from Healthwatch, local providers and commissioners for residents to leave positive and negative feedback on services across the county.
- Healthwatch East Sussex to work harder at making the public aware of who they are and the services they offer.
- Health and care services to listen more to the public’s experiences. This can be done through providing more face-to-face appointments and public involvement teams deciding the best situations and occasions to listen to the public.
- The NHS and local authority need to act more on residents’ opinions, by making direct changes based on patients’ views and experiences, as well as highlighting the changes they have made when listening to patients’ needs.
- The NHS and local authority need to boost the public’s confidence in health and care services, showing how they will improve services despite a lack of funding or staff and acknowledging that there is a lack of GP appointments available at the moment and acting on this to improve the situation.
As the public champion for local health and care services, Healthwatch East Sussex will continue to work in partnership with commissioners and providers to monitor the experiences of patients and the public in accessing health and care services locally and explore how ongoing improvements may be delivered.
For media enquiries about Healthwatch East Sussex, please contact John Routledge, Executive Director, on 07794 100 291 or via email@example.com.