Why share your experiences with Healthwatch?

You may think that sharing your story and experiences with us doesn’t make any difference, but Healthwatch England has published a number of ways in which your experiences have helped to effect change.

To read the full story click here.

Below, you’ll find a summary of exactly what your feedback has helped Healthwatch accomplish at a national level:

Hospital discharge: making sure your care continues after you leave hospital

Last year you alerted us to the issue around the Government’s new ‘discharge to assess’ model for every patient. This model was put in place to free up thousands of hospital beds and cope with demand at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This meant people were discharged from hospital faster by having their ongoing care needs assessed at home.

Almost 600 of you shared your experiences of leaving hospital with us. The research we conducted showed that:

  • 82% of people discharged did not receive a follow-up visit and assessment at home.
  • One in five people felt their discharge from the hospital was rushed.
  • One in three people were not given contact details of who to get in touch with at home.
  • It became apparent that many people were being discharged at night without any transport arrangement in place.

So, we decided something had to be done.

Thanks to your feedback, we shared with the Government how the hospital ‘discharge to assess’ model worked for you and made several recommendations to improve it. In July 2021, the Government updated their guidance for NHS hospitals, making improvements on several issues we raised. These changes include:

  • Safety first. The new guidance emphasises that people should not be discharged at night and that services should always tell people about the following stages of their care.
  • Holistic welfare checks. Everyone leaving a hospital will receive a holistic welfare check to determine the level of support, including non-clinical factors, such as their physical, practical, social, psychological and financial needs.
  • Designated care when people leave hospital. Case managers should arrange your medication supply and transport home before you are discharged.
  • Additionally, the Government also provided an extra £500 million in extra funding to support better hospital discharge.

Thanks to your feedback, we raised this issue with key decision-makers and made services better for everyone.

The dentistry crisis: ensuring everyone has access to an NHS Dentist

In June last year we had a 450% increase in negative experiences about access to dentistry. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced, we knew we had to act quickly.

With your feedback we were able to help move dentistry up the agenda over the last year and outline how thousands of people have struggled to access or afford NHS dental care. Our findings helped encourage MPs across the country to raise the issue in Parliament.

Our findings informed MPs across the country to raise the issue in Parliament. This contributed to Minister Jo Churchill committing to draw up reform plans by April 2022. In the meantime, NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care wrote to all dentists to update information about the care available on the NHS website, following one of our recommendations.

And we haven’t stopped there. We are determined to keep this issue front and centre of decision makers’ minds. Which is why we’ve made sure the issue has been raised repeatedly through an array of parliamentary interventions and media headlines.

Thanks to your help, we will continue to fight for access for an NHS dentistry for everyone.

Change takes time to happen but with your help we will continue shining a light on the issues that matter to you.

Whether good or bad, it’s really is important that you share your experiences with us. Remember, your feedback is helping to improve people’s lives. So, if you’re ready to tell your story – we’re here to listen.

If you’d like to share your experiences of health and care in Essex please get in touch with our friendly team.