Healthwatch England Publishes Annual Report to Parliament

Over the last year, Healthwatch England, the independent champion for people who use health and social care services, has heard from 341,000 people, carers and staff, all of whom have given their time to share their experiences of health and social care services.

Across the country, Healthwatch have been helping local health and care leaders to use this insight to make positive and practical changes – from helping GP practices in Crawley become more autism friendly to ensuring care homes in Middlesbrough are properly equipped to support people with dementia.

In total, the network of 152 local Healthwatch has published more than 1,745 reports creating an unparalleled source of feedback from people about how the NHS and social care services are performing in the current climate.

The sum of these reports has been compiled by Healthwatch England and is today being presented to MPs in their fifth annual report to Parliament.

The collective feedback paints a mixed picture of good care with some variation in quality and access. The area where Healthwatch received most comments was primary care. However, it is mental health services that stand out with an overwhelming majority of people’s comments reflecting a negative experience.

With services straining under a range of pressures there has been concerted effort from the NHS, government and local councils to introduce changes to the way care is delivered. Yet the experiences reported to Healthwatch over the last 12 months suggest much of these system led changes are yet to translate into tangible differences for people.

Reports from across the Healthwatch network suggest that the value of listening to patient feedback is starting to gain real traction within the NHS, with two thirds of local Healthwatch reporting that healthcare providers are now actively seeking out information from them about how patients are experiencing care.

Building on this, Healthwatch England is now developing its new five year strategy – to learn, share and debate how together we can make an even bigger difference in the years ahead.

Jane Mordue, Chair of Healthwatch England, said that “over the last year, we have seen some inspirational examples of people speaking up, highlighting what’s working well and where things need to improve. We have also seen outstanding services listening to what people want and using their feedback to change the way care is delivered.

“This is encouraging, as we know that the best services are the ones that understand and respond to their customers. But whilst there has been progress, there is still a long way to go before this approach to gathering and using feedback becomes commonplace across health and social care.

“Our research shows that the majority of people are willing to share their views to help improve services but people need to know how they can share their views and professionals must be given the time and space to listen properly.”

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