01278 264 405 or 0800 999 1286 (freephone) info@healthwatchsomerset.co.uk

Local health and social care champion, Healthwatch Somerset, has announced the areas it will investigate this year, to make sure that local people’s views and experiences are used to drive and support improvements in local services.

Following analysis of public feedback to identify common issues and concerns, and consultation with local health and care partners about national and local priorities, four broad areas will be prioritised.

1. Young People’s health and social care services
Healthwatch Somerset will be asking local young people about their experiences of health and social care services and gathering their ideas on how services could work better for young people.  The project will be designed and delivered by a group of volunteer ‘Young Listeners’, with support and training from Healthwatch Somerset.  They will engage with other young people during the summer and report their findings to health and care decision makers in the autumn.

2. Access to Primary Care
This project will build on Healthwatch Somerset’s previous work around improving access to Primary Care, such as GP services, pharmacies, and dentistry.  Public feedback will be used to support and influence the effective recovery of services post Covid-19, and the ongoing expansion of the Primary Care Networks in Somerset.  In particular, Healthwatch Somerset will explore the impact of digitalisation of services and the barriers and inequalities this can create for some people, and also access to NHS dentistry which became a major area of concern during the pandemic.

3. ‘Supported discharge’ for patients moving from hospital care into care homes and care at home
Healthwatch Somerset will look at the experiences of patients who are discharged from hospital care into care homes and care at home, due to their continuing care needs.  They will evaluate the effectiveness of the supported discharge process (Pathway 3), looking, for example, at access to transport services, rehabilitation and wellbeing services, and community support.  They will highlight areas of good practice and build understanding of patient’s health and social care needs to drive improvements in the quality of care people receive.

4. Waiting times from GP referral to treatment
Building on their recent exploratory work, Healthwatch Somerset will look in greater depth at the impact on local people’s lives of long waits for treatment.  The project will compare the experiences of people who are treated within the 18-week time limit and those who wait for over 40 weeks to receive treatment.  It will also investigate how waiting times for treatment in Somerset have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Findings and recommendations for improvement will be shared with those responsible for providing and improving health and care in the county.

Judith Goodchild, Chair of the Healthwatch Somerset local Board, explained how these projects will make a positive difference to health and social care in Somerset: “Health and social care providers can best improve services if they understand people’s experiences.  We are here to listen to local people, to gather and analyse their feedback and identify themes, and to report what is and isn’t working.  We share our findings and recommendations with those responsible for improving health and care in Somerset, to support and drive positive change.  We want to hear from as many people as possible about their health and care experiences, when these projects are launched throughout the year, or at any time and about any health and care service.  Your feedback really will help to make care better for local people.”

You can share your health and care experience and feedback with Healthwatch Somerset:
• Online: healthwatchsomerset.co.uk/talk-to-us/your-views-and-experiences/
• By phone: freephone 0800 999 1286 or 01278 264405
• By email: info@healthwatchsomerset.co.uk

Healthwatch Somerset is the county’s independent health and social care champion. It exists to make sure that local people’s views are heard and used by those in charge of health and care social care to help improve local services. It also provides information and advice to help people find out about local services and support.

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