What matters most? People’s experiences of NHS and Social Care
SUCCESSIVE scandals in the NHS have shown the dangers that arise when services don’t listen to patients. With local services already going through rapid change, and further reforms to be implemented, it has never been more important for services to pay attention to the people they serve and what matters to them.
In his first annual report to Parliament as Chair of Healthwatch, Sir Robert Francis looks beyond health and social care performance statistics to explore how people are experiencing care day-to-day across England. Drawing on evidence from 406,567 people, over the last year Healthwatch has looked at what people are saying about GPs and community services, hospitals, social care services and mental health support, as well as issues that are common to all four areas of care.
It is becoming clear that some people struggle to access the support they need, with services not getting the basics of care right e.g. care home residents not being able to see an NHS dentist. Issues like these require the NHS and social care system to be looked at as a whole rather than focussing on the headline targets for individual parts of the service.
The NHS’s aspiration to provide care that is close to home, joined-up and tailored to meet our individual needs, is right. But, with a complicated system already fighting multiple battles, the journey to this goal will be even harder if citizens’ voices are not heard.
Healthwatch is doing its part.
Since 2014 we have created the health and social care sector’s single biggest source of user insight. Encouragingly, those working in health and social care are also using our insight more than ever before, drawing on our evidence and calling on our expertise to engage with communities up and down the country.
The Government’s commitment to invest billions more in the NHS provides a rare opportunity to invest for the long-term in a building a culture where staff at all levels work in equal partnership with communities to shape the way services run.
Sir Robert Francis said: “The Government’s investment of extra billions in our health service gives us a great opportunity to think about how that money should be spent, and how we can track the impact of any changes to ensure they deliver the help people want and need.
“To do this, we want to see people’s experiences of care become part of the very DNA of the decisionmaking processes throughout the NHS and social care sector.
“Listening to people and learning from their stories is the best way to get the balance right, and to ensure services have the evidence they need to shape care around the real-life needs of those they serve.”
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