In October 2013, we published a report on Urgent Care services, including pharmacies, Brighton Station Walk In Health Centre, GP surgeries, the GP ‘out of hours service’, the NHS 111 telephone service, and the emergency dental service, as well as the adult and children’s accident and emergency departments in Brighton and Hove. Since then we have monitored what has been happening within those services, and whether our recommendations were followed.
The following things have changed:
- the option of booking appointments online has become a mandatory part of the new GP contracts. This provides different options for appointments and appointment booking, which could reduce pressure on services.
- standards at the hospital waiting room have improved. The hospital has increased its cleaning rotas, agreed to look into increasing the security presence over the weekend, and with Healthwatch help has recruited volunteers who chat to patients, ensure their comfort and inform them about waiting times.
- numbers of medically trained staff have increased and additional phone operatives have been deployed to help develop a better 111 service. We now receive far less negative feedback about the service.
- pharmacists have become better informed about NHS111 service and what community organisations offer. There are doing better at making information visible about what services a pharmacist can provide, and letting people know how long they can expect to wait for their prescription when they arrive at the pharmacy.
- there has been much more publicity about alternative urgent care services. Brighton and Hove Clinical Commission Group has run a massive information campaign called ‘We could be heroes’. They have used all available channels to raise public awareness about what services are available in the city and how to choose the best service for someone’s needs, and so help to keep A&E for saving lives!
- Healthwatch has raised public awareness about GPs’ telephone appointments systems, how to tell your GP practice what you think of it, late pharmacies, and parking options for the children’s and adult’s A&E amongst other things.
After the report Healthwatch did a couple follow up projects: for instance it decided to call all of our local GP practices and visit their websites to find out what information they are giving to redirect patients when practices are closed.
Results for each practice were sent to them individually, along with some hints and tips on how to improve the quality of information on the answerphone and through websites. Many practices thanked Healthwatch for this practical information, and have improved how they manage their out of hours messages as a result of this follow-up project.
Frances McCabe, Healthwatch Brighton and Hove Chair said:
“It is pleasing that there have been some improvements in the last year. However, the A&E Department continues to have increasing numbers of attendances and it is clear that services and public expectations need to be transformed to get a long term solution to this pressure. We continue to support initiatives that help people to use alternative services to A&E, but barriers remain. There are still delays in GP appointments, and people’s natural inclination if they have an acute problem and cannot get advice, especially with people who are vulnerable, is still to go to A&E.”
Notes to Editors:
About Healthwatch Brighton & Hove
- Healthwatch Brighton and Hove has legal rights to enter and view publicly funded health and adult social care settings and to be responded to within 20 days by the provider of health and adult social care services.
- Healthwatch Brighton and Hove is one of 152 Local Healthwatch organisations that feed into the national body Healthwatch England, set up in October 2012.
- Healthwatch Brighton and Hove has transitioned from Brighton and Hove Local Involvement Network (LINk).
- Healthwatch Brighton and Hove is funded by the Department of Health and commissioned through Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC), but is independent of the NHS and BHCC.
- Healthwatch Brighton and Hove is a Community Interest Company – its work centres around being beneficial to the communities of Brighton and Hove. It works with those who plan and run health and social care services asking questions about the way services are provided and suggesting improvements.
- For further information about Healthwatch Brighton and Hove, please contact Magda Pasiut, Engagement and Communications Co-ordinator on firstname.lastname@example.org