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 reduce infections and maintain care 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.

Public feedback has never been more important.  It will help NHS and social care services understand how to respond effectively to Covid-19 to provide the care and support people need.

Between April and September 2020, we ran a public feedback project to find out how the pandemic was affecting people’s experiences of care locally.  Throughout the project, we shared real-time feedback with local health and care providers to help them respond quickly.  Our final report provides analysis over the first sixth months on the pandemic; it identifies the challenges and achievements of a health and social care sector turned upside down by the pandemic.

This work will inform developments in local health and social care, and it will also feed into national research carried out by Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission.

Waiting lists

Waiting time from referral to treatment

This is one of the most common areas of feedback to Healthwatch Somerset.  The aim of the project is 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, to help identity what is working well with the referrals system and where improvements can be made.


Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Our new ‘Young Listeners’ project builds on our ongoing review of children and young people’s mental health services.  We are recruiting and training young volunteers to speak to other young people about their experiences of health and care services, and their ideas for how Somerset’s health and care system could work better for young people.

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.

Other projects

NHS 111 service

111 is the NHS non-emergency number.  When you call 111 you speak to a highly trained telephone adviser, supported by healthcare professionals (nurses or paramedics).  They ask you a series of questions to assess your symptoms which allows them to direct you to the best medical care for your needs.  NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with calls free from landlines and mobiles.

Healthwatch Somerset has joined forces with Healthwatch in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay and launched a regional survey (ended 20 November 2020) that will independently collate public feedback from people who have recently used the NHS 111 service, to ensure that the very people using the NHS 111 service get to have their say on the way it is delivered to them.


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Access to GP Primary Care in Somerset

We receive a lot of feedback from local people about 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.

In February and March 2019, we carried out a short research project to find out more about people’s experiences.  We wanted to identify the barriers that make it difficult for you to get the care you need and to highlight the ways that GP surgeries make it easier for you to access care.  Our findings and recommendations will be shared with those who commission and deliver GP primary care in Somerset, to help them improve the services they provide.

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Our report is on hold due to Covid-19, but you can find out more about the project here:

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.

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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.

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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.

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