Healthwatch Report Covid-19 one year on, access to health and social care services, and the future

Healthwatch Report - Covid-19 one year on, access to health and social care services, and the future

Overview for March 2021

The following provides headlines from the feedback received in March 2021.  It should be noted that during March 2021, England was still in full lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The key features for March are:

The following identifies some of the key areas which were drawn from the 610 public responses provided in March 2021.  It is important to note that throughout the report these headline statements are supported by contextual information where relevant and perhaps more importantly the words of the people behind the headlines.

  • 51% of people responding felt fine and were looking forward to returning to some level of normality, a further 22% said they felt ok and had developed new coping mechanisms making them more resilient for the ‘new normal’ – This was an encouraging statistic and what we had seen in previous lockdown reports in terms of people’s frustration appeared to be remodelling as hope and strong steps forward.
  • 22% of people felt anxious about leaving the house, they also felt they would benefit from support with reintegrating back into society – What we were not able to ascertain is whether these same people felt anxious to leave the house prior to the pandemic, and therefore if there would be any additional impact on support services. However, what was notable was that anxiety outside the home is a real issue for many people.
  • There was a consensus that people wanted more access to face-to-face appointments where this was appropriate for GP and dental - We know that services are not likely to return to the consistent approach of face-to-face consultation for any service.  However, what is evident is that the respondents do not appear to either understand this reality or accept it.  To this end there is much more that needs to be done in communicating with the public and building trust.
  • People also wanted more support and communication around the options available for people accessing appointments and more support, communication and assistance on how to access them and get the most from them – This aspect is critical to the continuing development of delivering excellent care.  People need support to use the tools, which for some are alien, but be clear that whether the tool to accessing services is face-to-face, text or virtual the experience must be about the impact on the persons reason for contact.
  • It was noted that digital appointment access was not for everyone and as such the current model created a two-tier inequitable approach to accessing health and care – No one can deny the benefits of digital access to healthcare, access to care anywhere, flexibility and convenience, safe and now robust and reliable but for some a shift to virtual is life changing and something which is intolerable.  Therefore, as a system everyone involved needs to look at ways in which they can reassure patients that digital healthcare has its place alongside face-to-face care.  As stated above the tools used to engage with patients should not detract or become an obstacle for the assessment, treatment and support for health and care issues.
  • Overwhelmingly people found access to NHS prescriptions much easier and accessible than previously with 79% saying it was easier than before – This was an outstanding highlight and one which really demonstrates where the changes and shift to digital services have had a significant impact on good patient experience.  It demonstrates where digital can be adopted and accepted to make a real difference to the lives of patients, their families, and carers.
  • We asked people if they had not used a health and/or care service in the last few months, why not? We noted 7% of people reported that they felt services were ‘closed’, this final aspect is something which should be acknowledged in terms of engagement.  The majority of people accessing this survey did so online and therefore have open communication channels to messaging, but somehow the message that services are open are not being received.

When specifically asking people how services could be improved for the future the following highlight statements were extracted.

  • Improve accessibility for the elderly, those with disabilities, language, and technology barriers – working with some local disability or BAME groups would help learn more about what improvements are needed.               
  • Some people are completely against digital healthcare, they believe it has no use and is not effective.  As a system everyone involved needs to look at ways in which patients can be reassured that digital healthcare has its place alongside face-to-face care.
  • Issues with WIFI and connectivity being in a rural area - need to be resolved.
  • Big variation in GP surgery information/communication which used the digital services, individuals were not aware it was available or informed on how to access and use the services – this needs to be addressed and consistency across all GP surgeries in Lincolnshire achieved.
  • Digital services be continually developed and improved (quality of calls, connections, registration, apps etc) for booking appointments, ordering prescriptions and for appropriate consultations. By appropriate we mean there should be a mixture of face-to-face and digital appointments and individuals should be clear on their rights to access face-to-face appointments.

It is important that healthcare services better understand what is working well and where they need to focus their resources to help people.  It is also useful to tell the system how people have managed to help themselves, and ways you might have found to cope and more resilient.

Completing the survey will only take a couple of minutes, it is anonymous and most importantly it will help to direct changes in healthcare services over the coming months and years.


Closing date: June 30th - This survey will run from March through to June with a report of the findings being produced each month, therefore you are able to complete this survey once per month.

If you or someone you know would like support with completing the questions, get in touch and we will contact you online, by telephone or by sending a copy in the post. Call 01205 820892 or email


Healthwatch Lincolnshire Report Covid-19 one year on, access to health and social care services, and the future

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