Young People's Preferences Towards the Future of Health and Social Care Services in Sussex - Findings during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Young Healthwatch has worked alongside Healthwatch Brighton and Hove to explore young people’s experiences of Sussex health and social care services during the coronavirus pandemic (including phone, video and online appointments).
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What did we find out?

  • The majority of young people who needed health and social care support during the pandemic have booked appointments. Only a minority who needed support decided not to book an appointment.
  • The main reasons for delaying appointments were: ‘feeling that my condition wasn’t serious enough’; ‘getting information online’; ‘not wanting to burden the NHS’ and ‘thinking I’d wait until the pandemic is over’.
  • Phone appointments were more than twice as common as video call and online appointments.
  • The most common types of remote appointments were: ‘GP appointments’, ‘Emotional and mental health support’, ‘social worker appointments’, and ‘Online questions from a health professional (e.g. Receptionist, NHS 111) to guide you to the right service’.
  • Levels of satisfaction for remote appointments were high (78.18%, 88.89% and 79.59% of young people being satisfied/very satisfied with phone, video and online appointments, respectively). The main advantages were around saving time and money for travel and shorter waiting times.
  • When young people were given space to reflect on the appointments they had and express their views further, however, specific concerns were raised around remote appointments, including: anxiety and difficulty to express oneself through phone or video appointments; issues with technology during video calls; remote appointments not being appropriate when prescribing a new medication or treating specific conditions that require face-to-face assessment.
  • Most young people said they were happy with future appointments to be remote, with ‘Triage’ and ‘Medication or a repeat prescription’ being the services with the highest preference for remote appointments versus non-remote (e.g. 80% and 79.84% happy with future appointments to be by phone for Triage and Medication/repeat prescription, respectively). Majority of young people were also happy with future phone appointments for 'GP' and 'Outpatient' (64.49% ad 53.78%, respectively).
  • Notably, a high proportion of young people, were not happy to receive mental health support remotely.
  • When given space to express their views via open-ended responses, some young people voiced their preference for face-to-face appointments (particularly regarding mental health support) with the main reasons being:
  1. Not being able to establish rapport and communicate effectively with the health or social care professional remotely.
  2. Anxiety about phone and video calls.
  3. Issues with privacy (e.g. being overheard by family members during phone/video appointments) and confidentiality of data.
  4. Issues with clinical assessment via remote appointments and risk of misdiagnosis or treatment.
  • Regarding managing future GP appointments, young people rated as important to ‘be given the choice between having a phone or video appointment‘, ‘be able to upload photos of my condition to a GP’, ‘be able to book a phone/video appointment via an online booking system rather than by phone’.
  • Further recommendations from young people were:
  1. Allow patients to choose the type of appointment they feel most comfortable with.
  2. Use patient's type of condition and severity to decide the most suitable appointment type.
  • When asked about the main challenges faced during the coronavirus pandemic and how these have impacted their life, the following themes emerged:
  1. Not being able to see friends, family and loved ones.
  2. Issues with mental health due to lack of social interaction and isolation.
  3. Difficulties accessing Mental health support for pre-existing conditions during the lockdown.
  4. Difficulties in managing school/college/university work and keeping a work-life balance while not being able to go out.
  5. Boredom and lack of routine.
  6. COVID-related fear, including the fear of being in public spaces and others not respecting safety measures.
  7. Financial health and future work opportunities.
  • Young people also recognised some positives about the coronavirus pandemic that they hope will change society for better in the future. These included:
  1. More kindness towards others and a greater sense of community.
  2. A positive impact on the environment and greater effort towards sustainable lifestyles.
  3. A greater focus on funding health and social care services and a better recognition of keyworkers.
  4. A greater focus on hygiene.
  5. A greater appreciation of the ‘simple things' we may take for granted.
  6. Improved communication with loved ones.


You can download the report here, but if you need it in a different format, please contact us at:

01273 234 041

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