Healthwatch has released its annual survey of health and care priorities and mental health is at the top of the list for 2018.
Using the information people have raised with their local Healthwatch, Healthwatch England has identified the top five issues people want to see addressed over the next 12 months.
Mental health services
Access to, and quality of mental health services topped the list for a third year running, with 99 out of 152 (65%) local Healthwatch highlighting it as a major priority for their communities. In particular, people want to see a change to the care and support available to children and young people. Communities have also told Healthwatch that more needs to be done to ensure that people with mental health conditions are diagnosed in a timely and consistent manner, given support sooner, and are treated before they reach crisis.
Social care services
Adult social care, particularly support for the elderly and their carers, has come a close second with over half (51%) of local Healthwatch planning to do work on this issue in the next 12 months. Issues that people have already raised with local Healthwatch include concerns about high staff turnover and a lack of training leading to poor care.
Services working better together
In over a third of areas (34%), local Healthwatch will be looking at how services can work better together to deliver care, especially the implementation of Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STPs). STPs aim to improve the way local services work together to better use existing resources to improve the quality of care and people’s health and wellbeing. Healthwatch across England are working to raise awareness of what STPs mean for local communities and to encourage people to have their say.
In 48 areas (32%), local Healthwatch are planning to look at people’s experience of using hospital services. People have told local Healthwatch they feel they’re waiting too long when they visit A&E for immediate care and are not being given the support they need to help them recover properly when they leave hospital.
GP and dental services
Access to GP and dental services will be a priority for over a quarter (28%) of local Healthwatch in 2018. In some areas, people have told Healthwatch that booking an appointment to see a GP or an NHS dentist can be a significant challenge. Poor access has a knock-on effect, as long waits to be seen by a doctor or dentist can prevent people from receiving the right diagnosis, treatment and even referral to specialist services.
Imelda Redmond, National Director of Healthwatch England, said of the survey of health and care priorities, 'We want to see all working in health and social care make it their personal New Year’s resolution for 2018 to work with people as partners in designing the future of services.'