Healthwatch Kirklees wants to help people access the NHS, GP services and social care in the way that best suits their needs.

Since March 2020 and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic access to health care has been difficult for many patients.

Many older people, for example, want to speak to their GP or practice nurse face-to-face and in person – not over the phone.

Last month Healthwatch Kirklees launched a survey asking for people’s experiences and thoughts on how services could be improved.

The aim is for Healthwatch Kirklees to use this information to work with local health providers to remove barriers and re-connect with patients.

Healthwatch Kirklees have already had 100 responses to their survey and are finding that:

·        Almost 100 Kirklees residents have faced delays, long waits and postponed NHS and social care treatments;

·        Access to primary care is an increasing concern as residents feel seeing a GP or dentist sooner would have avoided them having to visit the hospital or their condition worsening;

·        Local people who don’t have access to smartphones, digital devices, are hard of hearing or are partially-sighted are struggling with services being online and over the phone;

·        People with long-term conditions who used to receive regular check-ups are now facing long waits between checks causing them to worry about their health.

Healthwatch Kirklees will use the views they are gathering to influence health and social care managers to do things differently in the local area.

Here’s two real life case studies:

Joan recently requested a GP visit about her blood pressure medication. She doesn’t hear well on the phone.

She received a telephone call saying her blood pressure medication was to be reduced but it wasn’t explained why.

The next week Joan was admitted to hospital after collapsing in her home.  She believes this was due to the blood pressure medication change. While Joan was in hospital she caught a water infection and a chest infection.

On discharge from hospital Joan rang her GP again to find out if her medication for blood pressure needed to change and again she was denied a home visit even though she couldn’t leave her home.

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It was at that point Joan contacted Healthwatch Kirklees. Healthwatch Kirklees spoke to Joan’s GP practice and she quickly received a telephone appointment with the GP pharmacist who talked her through the changes to her medication. She also received a home visit from the practice nurse for blood tests and urine samples. 

Healthwatch Kirklees were pleased to be able to help Joan get the right care and treatment from staff who understood her health conditions and medication.

Mary has coeliac disease, osteoporosis and arthritis. Since the pandemic she hasn’t been able to see a dietician or be weighed.

“As far as I am aware there is no outpatient specialist or hospital clinic in Kirklees,” said Mary. “It’s been phone calls only.

“We seem short of dieticians in this area as they seem to come and go. When I have spoken to one they are very good and give me enough time, don’t rush me but I wasn’t able to see the dietician face to face for her to weigh me and I do think I have lost weight.”

Seeing a dietician face to face is important for Mary’s health and wellbeing and has other benefits as it’s when she can be given samples of new foods and drinks suitable for her condition.

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Helen Hunter, chief executive of Healthwatch Kirklees, said: “The impact of the pandemic on access to health and care has been enormous, despite the best efforts of professionals and services to keep people well.

“If we’re going to make sure that the NHS and care services deal with their delays and barriers to access most effectively, we need to understand what changes Kirklees residents would want to see.

“We want people to get in touch and help us get a clear understanding of how they want their care to work so we can ask the health and care services to work in that way.”

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NHS and social care services are changing. In September 2021, Healthwatch Kirklees will issue a report that will influence how services address the backlog and are shaped in the future.

Stories like Mary and Joan’s help Healthwatch Kirklees to make recommendations to health and social care managers to make changes based on what patients and their families want to see.

Share your views with the friendly team at Healthwatch Kirklees on 01924 450379 or complete the survey online at Information will be stored anonymously.