What health and social care services can learn from your experiences of lockdown
Based on feedback from over 300 residents of Birmingham and Solihull, our new report with Healthwatch Solihull ‘Experiences of lockdown: Birmingham and Solihull residents’ experiences of health and social care during the second national lockdown in England’ examines the challenges local people faced accessing health and social care services during Winter 20/21.
Following on from findings in our October 2020 report ‘What care and support did Birmingham residents need during the Covid-19 lockdown?’, we discovered that while certain issues had improved, there were still concerns around:
- lack of availability of services across health and social care providers
- poor communication about delayed consultations, assessments and referrals
- need for improvements to booking appointments, visits to GP premises, telephone and in-person consultations.
Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull have already worked with NHS hospital trusts and Primary Care Networks to improve communication and access to appointments. In publishing our findings in this report, we aim to support all parts of the health and social care system to restore and recover services in a fair and equal way.
We ask system leaders to ensure that:
- waiting lists are prioritised fairly, to ensure that patients get the support they need while they wait, with improved information about self-care and managing their condition
- there is regular communication with patients, with a range of ways to receive updates, for example on waiting times and care
- the growing number of new, digital approaches used during the pandemic are considered in terms of their effect on different groups, and adapted and refined to make sure their use does not exacerbate inequalities
- services work together to maximise the outcomes for patients and the public and to manage increasing pressure on services in primary care, secondary care and mental health
- increased support is provided to carers looking after relatives and loved ones: the ongoing impact of 24/7 care on them needs to be understood and supported.
Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull would like to thank everyone who shared their experiences with us, and the services who have engaged with our findings. Your contributions are invaluable in helping local health and social care services overcome the ongoing impact of Covid-19.