• 1816 people – more than ever before – share their views of local health and care

  • The most popular services to be commented on were GP surgeries, mental health, cancer, musculoskeletal health, children’s health and older people’s health

  • And now Healthwatch Somerset sets out its priorities for year ahead based on findings

More than 1800 people have shared their views on the county’s GP surgeries, hospitals and social care over the last year with Healthwatch Somerset – helping to shape and improve those services for all.

In its latest Impact Report, published today, Healthwatch Somerset highlights how it has worked with communities across the county to make a difference to the way health and care services are run.

Based on the feedback from the public and information from 26 strategic meetings over the last year, Healthwatch Somerset will now focus its work around access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; access to Primary Care appointments such as GPs and the availability of community support.

The year in numbers

  • Healthwatch Somerset heard from 1,816 people who shared their views.
  • The top services receiving comments were primary care, mental health, cancer, children’s health and older people’s health.
  • The team at Healthwatch Somerset visited 9 services and 98 community events to understand people’s experiences of health and care.
  • As a result,19 recommendations were made for improvement and 13 were adopted by services.
  • Its dedicated team of 42 volunteers gave up 1280 hours of their time to help carry out engagement work.
  • And more than 150 people accessed heath advice and support thanks to being pointed in the right direction by Healthwatch Somerset.

How your views have made a difference

  • Last summer, Healthwatch Somerset listened to the views of over 650 people on the area’s NHS non-emergency phone line.  A report, which highlighted issues raised by members of the public and included recommendations for improvement, was presented to Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group to help in the procurement of the new Integrated Urgent Care service.
  • New feedback gathered by Healthwatch Somerset on the county’s Adult Safeguarding service will be used to improve it for the future.  The Somerset Adults Safeguarding service, which protects an adult’s right to live free from abuse and neglect, dealt with 1,830 concerns in 2017/18 but only received feedback from six people.  Somerset County Council, who run the service, approached Healthwatch Somerset to help develop a new way of improving the service using the voice of the people who use it.
  • And in March this year, Healthwatch Somerset went on its Campervan & Comments Tour, hiring a classic VW campervan to travel 260 miles across the county to gather the views of people from all corners of Somerset.  Access to GP appointments was raised regularly and as a result has been made a priority for Healthwatch Somerset in 2019/20.

Emily Taylor, Healthwatch Somerset Manager, added: “The Campervan and Comments tour was a real highlight for us this year.  We were able to use our independence to creatively reach people that had never heard about us before and listen to their views.

“Many of our conversations were about access to primary care, and it was clear that whilst there is disparity across Somerset, more could be done to help people access these services.

“People also talked to us about the challenges many young people have accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health services.  For those young people that do not meet the tier 3 criteria, support in Somerset is not meeting their needs.  And through our engagement on the NHS Long Term Plan we have heard that people want to be supported to live in their home for as long as they can.  Therefore, we have made these issues our three priorities for the coming year.”

Healthwatch Somerset will now meet with key stakeholders involved with these services to better understand the challenges and identify how the public voice can help to shape services in Somerset.

Emily concluded: “I want to say a huge thank you to our volunteers and to everyone who has shared their views with us. Everyone’s health and care story is vital to the work we do.”

To read the full report, click here: www.healthwatchsomerset.co.uk/report-publications