Healthwatch Network reveals top priorities for 2019
- GPs, dentists and other primary care services most common issue to be explored
- Needs of children and young people to feature strongly
- Mental health and social care appear in the top five for third year in a row
To mark the start of 2019, Healthwatch England has published their annual network priorities list – setting out the key health and care topics local Healthwatch will be working on over the year ahead. Over the last year the network engaged with over 400,000 people about their experiences of care.
Each local Healthwatch works with their community to set out a number of priorities for their area. Healthwatch England has analysed 139 of these local plans and compiled a national list of the top issues.
The top five priorities for 2019 are:
- Primary care (including access to GPs)
- Children and young people
- Mental health
- Services working better together
- Adult social care, including residential care homes or care at home
Healthwatch Birmingham: What we are doing about…
…Services working better together
Our work on Direct Payments aims to understand if users feel support by City Council social workers to take control over the social care support services they access. Initial key findings include:
- Awareness and implementation of Direct Payments.
- Process, assessments and reviews.
- Access to information, advice and support.
- Service choice and service user control.
The draft report has now been shared with the City Council, who welcomed its usefulness in developing ongoing plans for improving Direct Payments.
We are running focus groups and interviews to hear the experiences of patients with a range of mental health or brain disorders. Recommendations will be shared with Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Groups. Our report will support General Practices to learn from patient feedback and to drive improvement in care.
Following on from our initial report last year, we are holding Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust (BSMHFT) to account for the changes to Community Mental Health Services they said they would make. The impact report will be published in February 2019.
The projects undertaken by Healthwatch will build on the day-to-day activities of the network visiting hospitals, GPs and care homes and engaging with local people at events and in public spaces to gather their views.
At a national level the combined findings will be used to provide insight for decision makers across the NHS, social care sector and Whitehall about the sorts of improvements people want to see. These issues and more will be explored by the Healthwatch network in 2019 to help services make the improvements people want to see.
Sir Robert Francis, Chair of Healthwatch England, said:
“Taking the time to listen to people’s experiences of care and what they want to see done differently is enlightening and often generates a range of practical solutions that can help services better meet the demands being placed on them.
“This is what we do at Healthwatch. We take the time to listen, and encourage others across health and care to do the same, building vital insight that helps services make the right changes first time.”