Patients air views as part of listening tour

Figures from the NHS underline the scale of the risks for people in Sussex
Figures from the NHS underline the scale of the risks for people in Sussex

Some of the most vulnerable patients in 1066 Country have had their voices heard through Healthwatch East Sussex.

Healthwatch staff, volunteers and partners from the voluntary and community sector spent three weeks in October 2017 talking to some of the most vulnerable residents about their views and experiences accessing health and care services. This took place in Camber, Fairlight, Hollington, Ore, Pett, Rye, Silverhill, St Leonards and Winchelsea.

John Routledge, director for Healthwatch, said: “We have demonstrated how we can reach deep into communities to gather the experiences and views of some of our most vulnerable residents. I am really pleased the rich data and experiences we have gathered can be used by those who plan, pay for and provide local services to improve the health outcomes and experiences of people living on the margins of society.”

The visits were part of the Hastings Listening Tour – a three-year programme designed to engage with local communities to gather views and experiences from people rarely heard from in society.

These views included major concerns ranging from difficulties accessing health and support services to the lack of clarity around the Special Patient schemes.

Vulnerable people that were receiving outreach support from organisations in Hastings and St Leonards reported better outcomes and experiences.

The published report, named Listening to Hastings, highlighted some wider issues from the public.

The first problem raised was poor access to GPs and GP closures around Hastings, as well as long waiting times for hospital appointments. Another issue was access to GP appointments for people who work outside the local area or have mobility needs. There are also problems for people with small children and public transport users.

There were some positives mentioned in the feedback with people speaking positively about the staff across the local health services, being described as ‘helpful’ and ‘understanding’.

Another big positive is the feedback towards pharmacy services. This is due to the friendly advice and on-line repeat prescriptions.

Further Listening Tour reports will be published over the next few weeks. In the meantime, Healthwatch East Sussex continues to use its influence to ensure data is shared appropriately with those who provide, plan and pay for local services.

All Hastings Listening Tour reports are available at www.healthwatcheastsussex.co.uk/hastingslisteningtour/.

Written by Martyn Greenstreet.