The COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath have affected us all. However, the impact on communities already facing unequal health outcomes has been particularly hard. With NHS and social care staff exhausted, and over six million people waiting for treatment, we're determined to help overcome the immediate challenges and play our part in building a future health and care service that meets the needs of all people.
Doing our bit to improve care
"Since joining Healthwatch, I’ve been impressed by the strength of our network and our achievements in improving care. With services across England, our dedicated staff and volunteers help decision-makers understand when you can’t access care, when your needs have been overlooked, or where your journey between services has broken down. We highlight what is and isn’t working, using views from every community"
- Louise Ansari, Healthwatch England National Director.
Building a better service for all
But we have ambitions to go further. Equality was one of the founding pillars of the NHS. Yet, factors like where you live, your income and your race can contribute to unequal health outcomes. The impact of COVID-19 made existing health inequalities worse, and the cost of living crisis risks magnifying the problem even further. So, we will do more to:
- Reach out to people who are not being heard, and whose needs are not being met
- Ensure our service is accessible and reflects the communities we serve
- Use our power to ensure decision-makers act to reduce the barriers you face.
With the introduction of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), services will coordinate across regions to meet the needs of their populations – aiming to improve your experience. We will do all we can to ensure that your ICS listens to and acts on your feedback. We want a healthcare service that genuinely meets the needs of everyone.
Being your champion
Despite some local Healthwatch services facing significant funding cuts last year, we supported two million people to share their experiences or access the advice they needed. Our independence, depth of insight, and strong partnerships enabled us to quickly bring the best and worst experiences of health and care services to policymakers attention, and find solutions that work. Amongst many other issues we highlighted access to NHS dentistry and GP appointments – areas that still need improvement.
Under my leadership, I am determined to build on this foundation, ensuring we have the skills and resources to make a tangible difference for the communities we serve.