2015/16 has been a year of change and challenge for Healthwatch Northamptonshire. This report covers the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 and highlights our key achievements throughout the year. This year we have continued to make efficiencies and work smarter, and with the support, dedication and hard work of our volunteers and partners put service user engagement at the top of our list. As this report shows, we continued to consult and engage with as many people in Northamptonshire as possible.
Make Your Voice Count - Views and experiences of health and social care in Northamptonshire, specifically cancer, diabetes and dementia
Posted on 08/07/2016
Between October 2015 and January 2016 Healthwatch Northamptonshire (HWN) carried out our third annual ‘Make Your Voice Count’ campaign. 1,098 people completed a survey telling us about their own or a family member’s experiences of local services and their views on how things could be made better. Part of the survey was commissioned by Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (Nene CCG) to find out about local people’s experiences of diabetes, cancer and dementia services as well as what people thought would improve their experience of health and social care, would help support people with long term conditions, and would help people to be better informed.
Most people told us about good experiences of cancer, diabetes and dementia services, particularly when it came to engagement with staff, being kept informed and the coordination of services. We also heard some less positive experiences, mostly related to people feeling there was a lack of support or poor communication.
Improving the support offered to patients and carers and improving communication were the most common suggestions for improving the support of people with long term conditions, including providing more home care, more support for carers, more support groups and more or better information and education. Being able to get an appointment in a reasonable timeframe was the most common suggestion for improving the user experience of health and care services overall.
You can read the full report here (including a summary of the key findings). Additional findings about other services will be shared later in the year.
A report on the views of parents/carers, staff and volunteers on services for under 5s delivered by Children’s Centres and Library Plus in Northamptonshire September 2015
Posted on 01/10/2015
During May, June and July 2015 Healthwatch Northamptonshire (HWN) Children, Young People and Families working group visited Library Plus and children’s centre services in Northamptonshire to hear from families, staff and volunteers about the services provided for children under 5.
HWN spoke to 22 staff, 11 volunteers and 44 parents in 17 libraries, 23 staff/volunteers and 35 parents/carers in 14 children’s centres, and 26 ‘others’, including another 15 mums across Northamptonshire, to see whether the service had improved the experience and outcomes for families.
HWN decided to carry out this piece of work following a number of changes by Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) to the children’s centre contracts from August 2014. These changes initially involved the change of venue and reduction of hours to the Daventry East children’s centre. Then, in November and December 2014 there was further consultation on the reduction of hours in an additional 25 children’s centre venues and the moving of services completely from another 5, which were:
Survey of people waiting in Accident and Emergency at Northampton General Hospital, Kettering General Hospital and Corby Urgent Care Centre.
Posted on 18/09/2015
During a two week period in May 2015, Healthwatch volunteers and staff asked 565 people in the waiting areas at Northampton General Hospital A&E, Kettering General Hospital A&E and Corby Urgent Care Centre about their experiences of A&E and urgent care, including whether they had tried to get help elsewhere before arriving.
We heard that most people were happy with how they had been dealt with by staff and received some very positive comments about the care shown. We also heard about a few specific poor experiences.
More than half the people we spoke to (303 people - 54%) had tried to get help from elsewhere first, and of those, most commonly people tried their GP practice first (193 people – 34%).
Whilst many people were referred to A&E by their GP practice for treatment or test (39 people told us this was the case), 35 people mentioned being unable to get a timely appointment at their GP practices as the reason they came to A&E/Urgent Care.
The report indicates that further work is needed to ensure that health services are working together to provide good access to alternatives to A&E and urgent care, if their condition is not an emergency, including increasing the number of emergency GP appointments, walk in centres and out of hours access. This should include looking at people’s pathways across the whole health system, from primary care and the 111 service and ambulance service, to hospital discharge and community support.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire’s report on people’s experiences of services provided by NHFT
Posted on 28/07/2015
We have published our report on the experiences of people using services provided by Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT). The majority of feedback relates to mental health services, community mental health services and child and adolescent mental health services. We heard both positive and negative feedback on people’s experiences between September 2013 and June 2015.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire A Report on the Domiciliary Care Lay Monitoring Project Phase 2: November 2014 – March 2015
Posted on 20/07/2015
Healthwatch Northamptonshire (HWN), the independent champion for health and social care in the county, has been finding out what people who use domiciliary care and their families think about the quality of this essential service.
Domiciliary care (home care) is received by approximately 4,500 people across Northamptonshire from paid care workers who provide assistance with washing and dressing, meals and help with taking medicines. Of this total number, 2,614 people accessed their support via Northamptonshire County Council Adult Social Care and an estimated 1,886 people purchased a service independently.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire Annual Report 2014/15-Making your voice count
Posted on 19/06/2015
We launched our 2014/15 report at our Annual Meeting on 18 June 2015. The report highlights our key impacts during the period from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015. Key features include our work, based on people’s experiences and views, to improve a range of services including secure mental health care; home care; hospital care at Kettering and Northampton; keeping vulnerable adults safe and our work to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for children and young people.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire asks parents about Health Visiting services
Posted on 21/05/2015
Healthwatch Northamptonshire volunteers interviewed 221 parents in 8 locations across Northamptonshire during January 2015. We found that the majority of parents were satisfied with the service in general, especially when they had specific concerns. We did find variations in different parts of the county in relation to whether parents receive weaning and dietary advice and how mothers had been feeling before and after the birth. We have asked for a full review of the service, with further involvement of local parents, before the service moves to being commissioned by Northamptonshire County Council from October 2015. The review should ensure that all parents receive a consistent service, including weaning and dietary advice and psychological support.
Patient experiences of GP services in Northamptonshire
Posted on 12/05/2015
Healthwatch Northamptonshire visited 25 GP practices in 2014 and spoke to 234 people. We spoke to the practice managers to find out more about how their practice works, what they thought worked well and their views on the challenges faced. 5 of the 25 practices were also visited by a Deaf ‘mystery shopper’ to assess how accessible they were for Deaf patients.
We found that whilst many people are happy with the service they receive from their GP surgeries, difficulty getting an appointment and not being able to see a doctor of their choice are common issues and the needs of Deaf and hearing impaired people are not being met.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire CIC has published its report on the 2014 Make your Voice Count 2 public engagement campaign. Throughout October, November and December, Healthwatch Northamptonshire toured the county, attending community events and visiting locations in our promotional bus to find out what the community thinks of health and social care services in Northamptonshire. Healthwatch Northamptonshire would like to thank everyone that got involved in our campaign and helped to shape our plans for 2015/2016.
A report on Healthwatch Northamptonshire’s Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Conference 18 February 2015
Posted on 20/03/2015
Healthwatch Northamptonshire’s Young People’s Conference, held on the 18 February 2015, was planned and designed to be a positive and fun day to enable young people between the ages of 12 and 18 to engage with other young people and professionals and open the debate about health and wellbeing issues important to them. We had 141 people attend the conference giving their views on health and social care services for young people in Northamptonshire. We also launched "A report on a survey of Young People’s Wellbeing in Northamptonshire - February 2015". To see more about the conference and to see some of the picturesClick here.
A report on a survey of Young People’s Wellbeing in Northamptonshire - February 2015
Posted on 04/03/2015
From September 2014 to January 2015, Healthwatch Northamptonshire and the Northamptonshire Young Leaders carried out a survey on the wellbeing of young persons aged 11-25 across the county. This report, which we launched at the Young people's Wellbeing Conference on 18 february 2015, Gives the findings from the survey.
The Care Act 2014 is the single largest change to health and social policy for a generation. The majority of the Act comes into place in April 2015. There are new duties for local authorities, as well as changes to how care is charged for, who has to pay and how much people will have to pay towards their care. The fact sheets below outline the main parts of The Care Act 2014.
A report on patient experience at Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 2013 – 2014
Posted on 02/12/2014
Healthwatch Northamptonshire has published a report on patient experience of Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (KGH). The report was submitted to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in advance of their inspection of KGH in September. CQC described this feedback as “invaluable in informing their inspection”. The report gives an overview of what we heard from patients and their relatives from 106 visits to KGH, information sent in to Healthwatch by members of the public and our Make Your Voice Count survey, in the last 18 months. The information and insight received indicates a diverse range of views about the quality of care at KGH. Many people talked about very positive care – especially caring and efficient staff, good clinical care and good patient experience. Others were more critical of the quality of care and the patient experience and some were clearly distressed about their experiences. Emerging themes include issues to do with care and dignity of patients, communication issues, poor environments, lengthy discharge waits and staffing level concerns.
Report on the Domiciliary Care Lay Monitoring Pilot Project
Posted on 26/09/2014
A growing number of older people, people with disabilities and long term conditions are supported to live at home and receive help with personal care and day to day living tasks. This kind of support is usually called domiciliary care or home care. Numbers are set to continue increasing as the numbers of older people rise and national and local policy has set out a clear vision that people should be supported to live as independently as possible in their own homes for as long as possible, with a reduction in admissions to hospital and to care homes.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire has been working in partnership with Northamptonshire County Council on a pilot project to monitor the quality of home (domiciliary) care services. Phase 1 of the pilot involved Healthwatch Volunteers hearing from users and informal carers/family members, who use two local care agencies to find out their views of the services they received. We have called for major improvements to the way services are planned and delivered to ensure that home care services genuinely meet the needs of people who use services.
The views of people using Musculoskeletal (MSK) services and staff delivering MSK services
Posted on 11/08/2014
Background to this report: MSK stands for Musculoskeletal and refers to the muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments and associated tissue which make our bodies move and work. The NHS locally wants to review and improve healthcare provision. Healthwatch Northamptonshire is the independent champion of local people who use health and social care services. Working in partnership with the local NHS, we wanted to find out what patients and staff thought of current services and how they could be improved.
165 people using MSK services across Northamptonshire were interviewed and 35 clinical staff during April 2014.
The top three responses by patients on positive comments about MSK services were:
Clinical staff and good rapport with patients - 92% of patients said they felt able to ask questions about their condition and felt listened to by their clinician. 86% felt that they were involved in decisions about their care
Text appointment reminders
The quality of care and treatment received
The top three responses by patients on how services could be improved:
Waiting times: for both first appointments, follow up appointments and at the clinics:
Waiting times for first appointment varied from 1 day to 7 months (at the pain clinic) and the average waiting time for a follow up appointment was 4 to 6 weeks.
Patients told us about clinic waiting times of up to 2 hours and the lack of receptionist services at a number of sites.
The impact of waiting times on people’s lives is significant. 17% of people surveyed were on sick leave due to their condition (this may have been because of an elective procedure or an accident). A further 14% stated they were in pain but had no choice but to continue to work.
Communication between departments/GPs/Consultants :
Nearly 50% of patients using more than one clinical service were frustrated at perceived poor communication between departments, particularly where treatment involved using services in another County
Communication between departments and the reported lack of knowledge by the Patient Contact Centre are raised as concerns both by patients and clinical staff.
Cancelled appointments and not being given information as to why.
Staff highlighted good quality of care, good team working with diverse range of clinical skills and access to extended scope practitioners. Staff concerns included waiting times, the referral system, the need for admin/receptionists and access to psychology. Staff recommended GPs (family doctors) should be given clearer referral criteria guidelines to avoid inappropriate referrals which take up time.
Referral criteria should be reviewed in consultation with local patients and patient organisations, such as Arthritis Care and the British Society for Rheumatology, and evidence based best practice followed
Waiting times for appointments and in clinics should be reviewed and reduced – this is likely to mean an investment of resources to run more clinics
Consideration should be given to receptionists/additional admin staff at clinic sites
Communication arrangements between clinical staff and departments, including out of County services, should be reviewed and improved
Targets should be set to reduce the number of cancelled appointments
If appointments are cancelled, patients should be clearly informed of the reasons for cancellation
The CCGs should provide clarification on the next steps for MSK services and the overlap with current work by clinicians which is reviewing Rheumatology and Trauma & Orthopaedic service provision in the County.
Survey of patients waiting in Accident and Emergency at Northampton General Hospital
Posted on 05/08/2014
During a two week period in April 2014 we asked 173 people in the A&E waiting area at NGH about what other services they had tried to access before going to A&E and what their experience was. The report indicates that much more work needs to be done to ensure that health services are working together to make sure people have good access to alternatives to A&E, if their condition is not an emergency, and that the public know how to access those alternatives. The survey shows that a majority of people are trying to use alternatives to A&E, but that access to alternatives is difficult. Two thirds of the people we spoke to (66%) had tried to get advice and help from elsewhere before coming to A&E and half (50%) had been directed to A&E by those services (GP practice, 111, out of hours). 1 in 5 (20%) attended A&E at NGH because they were unable to see a GP. Only two people mentioned trying to access a pharmacist indicating that more work needs to be done to encourage people to think “pharmacy first”.
At the Healthwatch Northamptonshire Annual meeting held on 30th June 2014 we launched our Annual report 2014. The Annual report details achievements and impacts that we have made both nationally and locally over the last twelve months. It highlights the significant contribution that volunteers have made to ensuring the public voice is heard in the shaping and commissioning of health and social care services as well as outlining some key areas of work that have help establish us as a robust credible consumer champion.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire operates by the following policies, which enable us to be an effective, open and transparent and consumer champion for local health and social care. Additional internal policies are available on request.
A report on the views and experiences of children, young people and families of health and social care in Northamptonshire – June 2014
Posted on 27/06/2014
Children, Young People and Families Views of Health and Social Care in Northamptonshire 2014
Healthwatch Northamptonshire (HNW) wants to ensure that the views of children, young people and families are gathered and heard and positively influence current changes in health care for children and young people.
With this in mind HNW held a range of activities including:
surveying 53 people directly on the service they receive
holding focus groups with families and young people at Time 4 Support, Dreams Youth Café and New Ark Foundation meetings
attending a range of events
talking to health and social care professionals from both statutory and voluntary organisations
using Facebook and Twitter to promote engagement
The questions covered a range of services including:
autism spectrum disorder
coordination of support for disabled children and their families
social activities and respite care
accessibility of services
child and young people friendly services
The main findings concluded that many children and young people don’t get the right support at the right time and often had to ‘struggle’ or ‘fight’ to get services.
Other issues include:
lack of continuity of care between services
lack of professional time or perceived commitment
gatekeepers/criteria which block access to services
weak partnership working
lack of information
long waiting times
A joint response from theNene Clinical Commissioning Group, the Corby Clinical Commissioning Group, and Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust welcomed the report saying:
“The NHS within Northamptonshire puts the voice of children, young people and their families at the centre of everything we do.
Working with Healthwatch Northamptonshire has enhanced our knowledge and is very helpful in guiding us as we look to improve Community Health Services for Children and Young People.
Consequently we will, through our transformation programme, work to develop and deliver services so that they are available where and when they are needed the most. By working together we aim to ensure children and young people are happy, healthy, safe and resilient, and are able to grow and become adults with a future.”
Notes from Mental Health and Wellbeing Workshop 21st May 2014
Posted on 05/06/2014
Healthwatch Northamptonshire held a mental health workshop in May to understand the changes happening in mental health services currently and to ensure service users and carers are involved. Over 50 people heard from service users, carers, health and social care services about the need for radical improvement to services and early access. The NHS and the County Council agreed to circulate a simple plan summarising all the proposed developments currently being delivered to improve access to early help and support. Healthwatch Northamptonshire will work with service users, carers and voluntary and community sector groups to judge whether the changes are delivering improvements
During September and October 2013, Healthwatch Northamptonshire ran a campaign called “Make Your Voice Count”. The aim of the campaign was to:
Let local people know about Healthwatch Northamptonshire and what we do
find out people’s views and experiences of health and social care and suggestions for improving the quality of care
grow our Healthwatch Northamptonshire community of volunteers to build our numbers and ensure we better reflect the diversity of our local communities.
We delivered the campaign through a series of roadshows, a media campaign, attending community and patient events and meetings already planned and a survey asking people to rate their care. We talked to over 1,100 people; our website had over 1,000 visitors; 214 people completed a survey; over 100 people want to volunteer for us and our media reach in local newspapers provided 126,000 opportunities for local people to read about us.
The survey analysis indicates that the majority of services used were rated as good. The more in-depth conversations highlighted some specific concerns about health and social care. Waiting times to see family doctors (GPs) and difficulties and delays in accessing urgent and emergency care were the most common concerns.