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Your spotlight on local services


December 2018 Newsletter

Click here to see our December 2018 Newsletter. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Healthwatch Blackburn with Darwen!

Healthwatch England Annual Report 2017/2018

  • 400,000 people – more than ever before – coming forward to share their views
  • Their stories show hospitals, GPs and care services coping despite huge pressures
  • But headline targets used in isolation hiding plight of those falling between gaps

Read the report here 

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. (See below)

Over the course of the year, our network shared 2,053 reports with local services and decision makers about the improvements people would like to see.

The collective findings of these stories and reports show a real mix of views, with people continuing to receive outstanding care, much of which people say is down to the dedication shown by the extraordinary staff who keep things running.

However, it is also becoming clear that others struggle to access the support they need, with services not getting the basics of care right. Examples Healthwatch has worked on over the last year include care home residents not being able to see an NHS dentist and hospitals not providing the right information to help prevent patients having to return unnecessarily.

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.

Yet as it stands, services are not always able to spot the gaps between them and the impact this is having on the people they care for.

With the NHS Long Term Plan imminent, and the Government’s plans for social care due in the New Year, listening effectively to people needs to become “part of the DNA” of health and care in England. From the beginning of the planning process to the provision of services to individual patients, insight from people need to be used to shape decisions and better track performance.

Healthwatch is doing its part. Since 2014 we have created the health and social care sector’s single biggest source of user insight, gathering more than 1.4 million experiences and views. We have also set a clear goal to step this up further, by reaching a million people a year by 2023.

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.

Four common themes

From the hundreds of thousands of stories gathered by Healthwatch in the last year, we have identified four themes which people commonly experience across all services.

  1. Better information to make the right choices
    With the right information, the public is not only empowered to make better decisions about their health and care, but know where to go for help when they need it. However, this information isn’t always available, and when it is, it can be too technical, confusing or difficult to find.
  2. Easier access to support
    Quicker and easier access to health and care services is essential. It can take a long time for people to get the support they need. Many experience delays at every step – from getting an initial appointment, in waiting rooms, and to see a specialist for further treatment. Repeated cancellations also indicate that the NHS doesn’t value people’s time. Technology used correctly offers the potential to alleviate these barriers and provides easier access to services, and to earlier diagnosis.
  3. Improved conversations
    We know people want to be involved in decisions about their treatment and care. Good communication between professionals and the public helps people to be more informed, understand their choices, and manage their expectations. This is particularly important for people with disabilities or people who don’t speak English as a first language.
  4. Well-coordinated services
    Navigating health and social care can be complicated. People want a seamless experience across different services. When services work well together, it not only makes things easier for people but also reduces the risk of serious issues being missed.


East Lancashire Hospitals Trust Looking for Volunteers - Launch of Patient Participation Panel 

If you are passionate about having a hospital service that meets the needs of local residents, you might be interested in joining the NEW panel of patients to help support and guide the work of East Lancashire Hospitals Trust. 

To find out more, sign up for the launch event on Thursday 19th January 3pm at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital. 

Annual General Meeting - 24th October 2018

Thank you to all who attended our AGM on Wednesday 24th October 2018. A special thank you to our guest speakers Graham Burgess, Kevin McGee and Abbie Kearney.

To view Healthwatch Blckburn wih Darwens presentation, please click here.

To view the presentation by Graham Burgess, please click here.

East Lancashire Hospitals expand mobile appointment technology

Starting Monday 22 October, all new pre-op assessment, elective admission, therapy and MSK (musculoskeletal) appointments at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust will be sent direct to the patient’s mobile phone, replacing the traditional printed appointment letter for patients who have registered their mobile phone number with the hospital. Existing appointments will not be affected. “The new system greatly improves the patient’s experience, patients can confirm, cancel or arrange to rebook their appointment with one click,” says John Bannister, ELHT Director of Operations.

“Once confirmed, the appointment can be added directly into the patient’s digital calendar, saved on the patient’s phone or forwarded it to their email for printing.”

Patients receive a text to their mobile phone with a secure link and 4-digit PIN. To access the letter patients simply click the link to their secure access page, enter the PIN and date of birth and their appointment letter appears. As well as the appointment date and time, the letter also includes pre-assessment instructions, essential reading and important hospital information.

The system is safe and secure and can only be accessed with the PIN and the patients’ date of birth. As an extra security measure, if the link isn’t accessed within 24 hours the electronic letter will be deleted and a paper letter automatically sent to the patient.

If patients don’t have a mobile phone, or their number isn’t registered with the hospital, a paper appointment letter will be issued in the post. For paediatric patients, the child’s parent or guardian will receive the letter on their behalf.

Sue Elliston, ELHT Outpatients Project Manager, said: “We are really excited to extend this new technology which has been welcomed by patients and staff.”

“In the past few months, digital letters for outpatient appointments have made the process easier for our patients by giving them all the information they need at their fingertips.”

“The technology is interactive enabling instant control to accept, cancel or rearrange appointments, as well as the ability to translate the letters in to multiple languages.”

“Overall it is a better, much smoother system which will enhance the patient experience.”

To assist patients who receive a digital appointment letter, a special film has been created to explain in simple terms how the new system works.

Patients who prefer a postal appointment letter should tell hospital admin staff who will update the communication preference on the patient’s hospital record.

Patients can find out more about the new electronic appointment letters by visiting https://www.elht.nhs.uk/patients/mobile-phone-appointment-letters

NHS collaborate with children and young people to improve their mental health services

A report entitled “Thrive: Healthy young minds” has been published, about the views of children and young people and their families, concerning child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Lancashire and South Cumbria.  An innovative collaboration called “The Healthwatch Collaborative”, teamed up with the Children and Young People’s Transformation Board to learn how the NHS can improve child and adolescent mental health services.

During May and June 2018, local Healthwatch teams organised seven events across Lancashire and South Cumbria and invited children, young people, family members, carers and health professionals to hear their views about CAMHS services. Each event focused on an aspect of child and adolescent mental health care and was designed to be highly participative. The workshops focused on crisis support, access to services, transition to adult services, the role that digital technology can play to support young people, addressing the stigma of using mental health services, care of the most vulnerable, and ensuring that services are run as an integrated ‘one stop shop’. 

One young person, whose comments were included in the report said: “It’s a good way to involve young people - it’s good to include young people’s experiences”.

Sue Stevenson, Chief Operating Officer for Healthwatch Cumbria, on behalf of the Healthwatch Collaborative, said:

“When the NHS considers making improvements to its services, it is essential that the users of those services are involved. We know from past experience and research that improvements are best recommended by those who use the services because they have knowledge, experience and insight of those services, to make meaningful recommendations.’’

David Eaton, Service Manager CAMHS Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on behalf of the Children and Young People’s Transformation Board leading the redesign of mental health services for children and young people, said:

“All of the Trusts and the CCGs involved in improving CAMHS services are passionate about those services being the best that they can possibly be.  The energy and enthusiasm from the young people, families and carers was incredible and the result is an immensely useful report with feedback that we are now acting upon.  

On behalf of the Children and Young People’s Transformation Board I would like to thank everyone who took part in the events, and in particular thank the Healthwatch Collaborative for helping us with this. We are delighted with the Thrive report and look forward to continued engagement on our ideas and plans."

Planning for the next phase of co-production is underway and you can find out the latest at: https://www.healthyyoungmindslsc.co.uk/home

Read the full report here 


GP Patient Survey 2018 Results are Out

The approval rate for GP surgeries in the East Lancashire CCG area is positive, with 85% of patients rating their overall experience of their practice as either very good or fairly good.  However, just 11% of patients in East Lancashire have made GP appointments online despite data from the 2018 GP Patient Survey showing that people are finding it increasingly difficult to contact their family doctor over the phone.

Healthwatch Blackburn with Darwen is responding to this news by focusing in our 2018/19 workplan on digital appointment and prescription booking to understand residents' experiences and any barriers they may face. 

Find the detailed results about how your GP surgery is performing here

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