Report reveals people’s views on services received during coronavirus lockdown

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

People in Norfolk have highlighted the need to support the vulnerable and carers in a new report highlighting how accessible services were during the pandemic.

Healthwatch Norfolk has published its final report based on the views of patients and service users on a range of services during the pandemic.

The report raised concerns over lack of support for carers, of which the majority cared for someone aged 66 or above and had been advised to self-isolate.

One respondent wrote: “As my husband’s carer I’m very concerned about his numerous health problems and sometimes feel overwhelmed and a bit isolated by it all and feel as we are elderly don’t really matter.”

Of those self-isolating, less than half said they had received practical support. Of those that did, 58pc relied on friends and family and 39pc from the local council who assisted them by food ordering and deliveries, helped with prescriptions or giving information and advise. The survey said the vast majority were satisfied or very satisfied with the council’s services.

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Respondents said local and citywide voluntary groups provided an “invaluable” help providing information and collection.

The survey showed two thirds of people felt they had enough information, but many said they found it confusing, conflicting or not accessible to those hard of hearing or blind.

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Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, said: “The last few months have seen a huge collaborative effort from health and social care providers across the county, in the face of challenges we have never seen in our lifetimes. The results of our survey show that lots of people are happy with the care they have received and grateful to the staff. However, there is evidently still lots of work to be done.

“Now, the challenge for the system as a whole is make sure that we learn from the experience of both patients and professionals, making sure we continue with the good practice we have seen to make NHS and social care systems efficient and effective for everyone.”

Services users feedback showed that 75pc were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with pharmacies services, followed by remote GP appointments (70pc) in person GP appointments (66pc) with 64pc of patients said they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with hospital outpatient appointments.

As seen in previous surveys, dental and mental health appointments remained amongst the hardest to access.

Mr Stewart added: “Many people in Norfolk will feel the long-term impact of COVID-19, whether through the exacerbation of mental or physical ill-health, or even simply the loss of confidence to engage with their communities and services around them.

“We should use the skills and innovations that have developed to ensure that people most in need receive responsive support, whilst not forgetting that we have a duty to ensure care is equitable to everyone.”

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