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9. Healthwatch report

Healthwatch South Gloucestershire aims to make health and social care better for everyone, especially those who perhaps face additional challenges in accessing services. Healthwatch plays a central role in enabling people’s view and experiences of health and social care to be heard. In 2014/15 Healthwatch heard 374 issues an increase of 32% on 2013/14.

Engagement with communities enables and supports people to understand how the health and social care system works to express their views and share their experience. In 2014/15 Healthwatch has worked with people in the more rural areas of South Gloucestershire and heard how for some residents it is easier to access secondary health care in Bath.

Residents in South Gloucestershire would like more information about how to access services and we have shared this with commissioners. Yate West Gate Minor Injuries Unit is well used by the area’s rural communities and Healthwatch has heard lots of positive feedback about the service. The community would like to see the service have longer opening hours and an x-ray service at weekends.

Healthwatch has engaged with the Gypsy and Traveller communities to hear their experiences of barriers to health and social care. Healthwatch has recently taken part in the Gypsy and Traveller conference run by the West of England Strategic Traveller Health Group to raise the health inequalities issues with healthcare professionals.

Healthwatch also worked to hear the views of older people in Cadbury Heath. Healthwatch heard over 30 issues about services including GPs, secondary and primary care which have been fed back to service providers and commissioners.

Healthwatch works with volunteers who represent the views of local people when services are being recommissioned or services are redesigned.

Healthwatch has been working with children and young people, under the banner ‘Young Healthwatch’ to hear their views on services and several young people from South Gloucestershire are taking part in the programme board for the recommissioning of children’s community health services.

Healthwatch has an information and signposting function that is delivered through Well Aware. There were 257,038 views relating to the Well Aware website in 2014/15 (serving B&NES, Bristol and South Gloucestershire) and the top five areas searched for were:

  • mental health
  • dementia
  • befriending
  • gardening
  • counselling

Healthwatch has the statutory right to access services and observe the services happening and in 2014/15 Healthwatch visited 10 care homes to speak to residents and their families. Reports on the observations and the recommendations are shared with the care home, the local authority and the Care Quality Commission. Volunteers who undertake the visits and Healthwatch staff all have access to safeguarding training and are made aware of the importance of reporting anything they observe when undertaking their work with Healthwatch.

Healthwatch has built a good relationship with the Safeguarding Adults Board and looks forward to working more closely in the coming year to ensure the safety of all vulnerable adults.