A roadshow which travelled almost 260 miles around Somerset to find out the views of local people on health and care services has finished its seven-day tour with more than 400 views collected.

Staff and volunteers from the county’s independent health and care champion Healthwatch Somerset took to the roads in a classic 1969 VW campervan and parked up at various locations around the county to gather the views and experiences of people of all ages on health and social care services.

The Campervan & Comments Tour, which was organised to reach people who may not have heard of Healthwatch Somerset before, visited 18 key locations all over Somerset.

The most popular topic of conversation centred around accessing local GP surgeries with mixed views across the county.  Arthur from Wellington is happy with his GP surgery.  He said: “I have been a patient at my surgery for 60 years. I get regular appointments and I am well looked after. I am really happy with the service.”

Healthwatch Somerset volunteer Dermot helped out on the tour.  He said “I thoroughly enjoyed my first volunteering opportunity with Healthwatch Somerset as part of the Campervan van engagement tour.  I found it rewarding to hear all the stories from Somerset residents with an overwhelming positive view of the NHS.

“The views collected varied from good GP services and good hospital care, through to frustration with the administration and the time from diagnosis to treatment.  I found that I broadened my view of peoples experience and that by just listening I was better able to ask about people’s experience of the NHS.”

Reflecting on the tour, Healthwatch Somerset Manager Emily Taylor added: “A lot of people told us how much they valued and appreciated NHS services, although access to Primary Care was an issue that came up again and again.

“Less people shared experiences of social care so it is harder to identify trends, but we will be reviewing all the feedback and ensuring that these are shared with the delivery and commissioning organisations.  We will also be using it to inform our priorities for our 2019/2020 Workplan.”

The findings of the roadshow will now be complied into a report which will be shared with the decision-making organisations in Somerset – those that pay for and plan for health and care services in the county.

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