Our Projects

Our priorities for April 2020 – March 2021

Healthwatch Somerset’s priorities for this year have been identified and agreed as part of the annual work plan process.  These projects are:

Care during COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic required health and social care services to adapt at great speed to care for people with the virus, while trying to maintain care and support for many of our most sick and vulnerable people.  Many treatments and services were put on hold, while others introduced new ways of delivering care and support.  As health and social care services recover from COVID-19, public feedback has never been more important to help providers reflect and develop to provide the best possible care.

We launched our public feedback project in April 2020 to find out how people’s experience of local health and care services have been affected by the virus.  This included an online survey, focus group discussions and interviews.  Our survey closed at the end of September 2020; we are analysing feedback and will report our findings in autumn 2020.

We will use this feedback to tell local NHS and social care providers what is working well and where things need to adapt and improve.  Our work will also feed into national research carried out by Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission.


Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

This project will build on Healthwatch Somerset’s ongoing review of children and young people’s mental health services.  Feedback will be sought from young people through our new Healthwatch Somerset ‘Young Listeners’ project.  Young people from across Somerset will be recruited as volunteer young listeners to engage with other children and young people so that their voices are involved in shaping local services.

Primary Care

Access to Primary Care

Access to primary care is one of the most common themes of public feedback received by Healthwatch Somerset.  Primary care refers to the first place people go to when they need health advice or treatment for symptoms that are new or for concerns about physical or mental health.  This includes, for example, GP surgeries, pharmacies, opticians, and community care services such as musculoskeletal clinics.  People using primary care have a broad and varied range of access and care needs, for example, disabled access, support for carers, access for older people and homeless people.

This year-long research and engagement project will build on previous work looking at access to primary care through GP surgeries.  The new project will look in more depth at local provision to identity areas of good practice and at primary care access in care settings.  The project is also an opportunity to work with Primary Care Networks in Somerset and the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group to further explore the development of the wider networks.  The nature and timing of this project will be reviewed to ensure it reflects the impact of coronavirus on how primary care is delivered.

Leaving hospital

Supported discharge for patients with continuing health care needs (Pathway 3)

This project will look at the overall experience for patients who are discharged from hospital care into care homes due to their continuing health care needs.  The aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of the supported discharge process to highlight areas of good practice.  The impact on patient’s social needs when they return home will also be considered.  Project findings will be shared with local providers, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, Somerset County Council and GP practices to support the development of community services in the county.


Accessing transport to health and social care services

This research and engagement project aims to provide an overview of how transport services in Somerset impact on access to health and care in the county.  Research will be carried out to identify gaps in provision, and public feedback will be sought through focused engagement work and other projects undertaken during the year.

Waiting times

Waiting time from referral to treatment

This is one of the most common areas of feedback to Healthwatch Somerset.  The aim of the project would be to understand and contrast the experience for patients who wait long periods between referral and treatment, with those who are seen within the NHS standards waiting time of 18 weeks.  We are working closely with Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group to capture patient feedback on this theme with a view to developing this project in the future.

Other projects

Access to GP Primary Care in Somerset

Healthwatch Somerset is carrying out a research project after receiving a lot of feedback from local people about getting access to primary care within their GP practice.  Primary care means the first place people go when they need health advice or treatment for symptoms that are new, or for concerns about physical or mental health.

We want to find out more about your experiences of accessing care through GP surgeries in Somerset.  We want to identify the barriers that make it difficult for you to get the care you need and highlight the ways that GP surgeries make it easier for you to access care.  The information we collect will be shared with those who commission and deliver GP primary care, to help them improve the services they provide.

The engagement work included an online survey [closed on 13 March 2020].  All feedback and responses will be anonymous.  Our volunteers also visited a sample of GP Surgeries across the county to listen to your experiences and answer questions about this research.

To follow:  A report of our findings and recommendations will be published and shared with stakeholders.

Read more:

Somerset Maternity Voices Partnership

We are supporting Somerset Maternity Voices Partnership (MVP), an independent forum for women & families to share their experiences with maternity services in Somerset.

Read more:

NHS Long Term Plan

The NHS has produced a Long Term Plan, setting out all the things it wants health services to do better for people across the country.  Your local NHS needed to hear from you about what those changes should look like in your community.  Our report has now been published that details the engagement work carried out by Healthwatch Somerset around the NHS Long Term Plan.

Read the final report, July 2019.

Read more:

Campervan Tour 2019

Healthwatch Gloucestershire staff and volunteers took the roads of the county in March to find out what people think about local health and social care services.

Read more about what we did and where we went here.