HealthWatch Leicester and Leicestershire submits the annual report.
Members of the Commission are recommended to note the report and pass any comments to the representatives from HealthWatch Leicester and Leicestershire.
HealthWatch Leicester and Leicestershire submitted its Annual Report for 2021-22, which provided a summary of the activity it had undertaken as a jointly commissioned contract. Members of the Commission were recommended to note the report and pass any comments to the representatives from HealthWatch Leicester and Leicestershire.
The Chair reminded Members that Healthwatch was a standing invitee to the Commission, and on Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Commission. The Chair also made reference to the video that had been circulated to Members by Healthwatch of the highlights of the report.
Harsha Kotecha (Chair of Healthwatch) and Gemma Barrow (Chief Officer) were present. Mr Joe Johal from Healthwatch was also welcomed to the meeting, who would regularly attend future meetings of ASC. During the presentation of the item, highlighted from the report was:
· 10 reports were published about improvements people wanted to see in their health care service.
· As part of a summer tour, Healthwatch attended 36 events in the city and county and engaged directly with over 2,400 people.
· During that time a survey was conducted, and 350 people told Healthwatch about their challenges in accessing their GP practice, which was an issue high on the Healthwatch agenda.
· During the first lockdown, volunteers reviewed GP practice websites to see how informative an accessible they were for local people. Findings were placed in a report and shared with the Clinical Commissioning Groups at the time, and consolidated into research following which an action plan was put together to look at service improvements.
· Health and care settings could not be visited during the pandemic. The Enter and View programme of GP practices was resumed as soon as HWLL were able to go into health settings, such as care homes, hospices etc.
· HWLL utilised the text messaging service to reach more people within those practices to limit presence on site. One example was Latham House Medical Practice in Melton where over 1,000 responses were received to the patient survey, with the report being well received by the practice team, with the recommendations for improvements welcomed.
· During the past year, HWLL had attended 14 carers groups, hearing from 123 carers and 14 members of staff and volunteers. Carers issues and rights would remain high on the HWLL agenda, with social media being used to raise awareness and invite people to share experiences.
· Also launched were monthly themed focus groups called ‘Let’s Talk’ to discuss with people changes to the health and care landscape during the Covid pandemic.
· Dentistry is a topic high on the agenda, with findings placed in a report and shared with the BBC, after receiving many calls from people having trouble accessing a dentist, and with evidence shared with Healthwatch England.
· A big project during 2021 was around male suicide, with contact made with agencies involved with suicide prevention in the city and county to identify gaps in service provision. The Have a Conversation campaign focussed on getting men to talk, and work was undertaken with Equality Action, a local charity to enable young men to produce a rap song that related to male suicide and mental health.
· Healthwatch had looked at post hospital discharge for the homeless, and what services were available across the city.
· Healthwatch were open to requests on what Members would like Healthwatch to work on during 2022/23.
Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and the following information was provided:
· It was asked if many Asian males had come forward during the work around male suicide. It was reported that the groups that engaged with were mixed groups but predominantly white males. However, during the project work on the rap song with Equality Action, it was mostly produced by young men of Asian or Black ethnicity. The aim was to get more people to talk about mental health, and it was an opportunity to get other communities talking about mental health in general.
· It was asked of future reports could split down engagement information between the City and County, as it was not clear from the report who had been engaged with and where.
· Healthwatch were asked if they were looking at any impact that had been seen and following outcomes to be achieved for the people in Leicester and Leicestershire following the report. It was noted Healthwatch had noted impacts and for some work did go back six months to a year later, particularly with GPs, to see if recommendations had been implemented and what changes had been made as it helped people at a local level. As could be seen int eh report, along with recommendations, specific actions were being included, and who should undertake the changes.
· Usually it could take around a year to work on a project, such as the male suicide project, and Healthwatch would continue to visit mental health groups to see if an impact was being made, for example, do more people visit the websites, or had there been a change in people going to Equality Action to talk to them. There had been difficulty in accessing services during the pandemic, but it was the intention of Healthwatch to continue to improve services.
· It was recognised that, with regards to dentistry, what was reported on the BBC and seen nationally had all come from Healthwatch. There were reports more people were gaining appointments, highlighting the changes in the service, and Healthwatch would continue to push for change in all areas.
· Dependent on the project, a review could take place from six months to one year, with each project having a different scale. Reports were also taken back to the CCG. For example, with GP access it was known to be a problem and Healthwatch gained evidence was being used to make changes, with evidence being used to put together a plan of action to do things differently. It was stated that some changes took time, and success came when they no longer heard patients talking about the same issues faced time and time again.
· Other changes would be seen over years. An example given was that a report was first taken to Leicester Partnership Trust on discharge lounges at hospitals three years previously. Work was undertaken, and a follow-up desktop review was undertaken to ask if actions had been implemented. Projects were kept on an action log, and follow-up report written to close them off.
· Ethnicity break down would be included in future reports.
· It was known that many dementia services had stood down over the pandemic and had not stood back up. A project had commenced to see what worked / did not work, to see if the diagnostics in particular worked for the city of Leicester, where some of the questions being asked as part of the dementia screening did not always fit with the ethnic population.
· Members were interested in the future plan to look into dementia services in Leicester, which would feed into the work of the Commission. It was noted the Chair would feen into that work and liaise to see if there were other areas of cross over.
· Healthwatch also wanted to look at accessing communication. Not everyone had access to health and social care during the pandemic in the same way, so the experiences of different groups felt during and after the pandemic would be gained, for example, the deaf community not being able to ring up for information during the pandemic.
· The current provision of maternity services would also be explored, along with Healthwatch Partnership in Rutland, specifically looking for Leicester and Leicestershire in terms of inception through to birth, as some populations did not access services until much later in the pregnancy the reasons for which would be investigated. Proposals would be worked on for commencement in September 2022.
· The Enter and View programme would restart and would include the experiences of care home residents and visitors, and also experiences of visiting the Emergency Department and urgent care pathways.
The Chair raised the issue of accessing appointment at GP surgeries. It was noted that not all GPs had a similar system but varied between practices, with some practices only allowing people to ring at a certain time, often during work hours, which prevented people such as those in full time work unable to contact GPs during the times the practice proposed. Healthwatch confirmed that the appointment access issue was an ongoing conversation with the Integrated Care Board. Healthwatch would be bringing a report back to a future meeting of the Commission which would hopefully be reporting on positive changes.
Further concern was raised that almost all dentists in the UK were not taking future NHS patients, and it was asked if Healthwatch could all address the issue. Healthwatch had raised the issue locally and nationally and would continue to raise with NHS England. Councillor Pantling, Chair of Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Commission informed the meeting that the Commission had added GP practices to the Commission’s work programme for the joint meeting between the Adult Social Care and Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Commissions scheduled for January 2023, as the Commission felt it was important to get information and to see if changes were working to the benefit of patients, or not.
Healthwatch confirmed that project proposals were firmed up following conversations with the Strategic Director, Social Care and Education, and Director of Public Health about issues they were dealing with. Members of the public were also invited to contact with issues they were concerned about, through three online events and social media. The same exercise would be undertaken in January 2023 to identify other issues.
The Chair further noted that people often experienced difficulties with phone conversations with receptionists and admin staff at GP practices, for example, language barriers, GP staff asking lots of questions, that could off the patient seeking to speak to a doctor or could be diverted to call 111. He said the process of making an appointment needed to be much easier and more accessible.
The Chair thanked Healthwatch representatives for the report and acknowledged that Healthwatch had gone from strength to strength and looked forward to a healthy partnership between the Commission and Healthwatch.
1. The Annual Report be noted.
2. Members’ comments and observations to be taken into account by Healthwatch.
3. The Commission be kept updated on the work of Healthwatch and future projects and consultations planned in Leicester.
4. At the next meeting or when possible to provide Leicester specific data on engagement figures.
5. Ethnicity breakdown to be included in future reports.
6. The Chair take part in dementia and access to services, groups and deaf community, when pertinent to the Commission to keep in touch.