Together, with four other local Healthwatch, we carried out a review of nine reports. These reports represent the health and care experiences of more than 1000 people during national lockdown one, in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reports reviewed were from Healthwatch Bucks, Healthwatch Oxfordshire, Healthwatch Reading, Healthwatch Wokingham and Healthwatch West Berkshire.
Residents across these areas told us that they need:
- Timely information about changes to services reassurance that services are operating safely.
- Accessible information in a variety of formats.
- Access to emergency dental care. As a result of this, commissioners should ensure that up to date information about access to emergency dental care is available. This can be done by liaising with NHS England and the Local Dental Committee for each area to ensure this.
We have shared these views with the Bucks-Oxfordshire-Berkshire West Integrated Care System (BOB ICS).
We have also recommended:
- Mental health services need to communicate about the support available for new and existing patients.
- Care homes and Local Authorities should review with care home residents, their families and home providers, what can be learned from the experience of lockdown. Such as, the use of digital technology to support communication between the home and families of residents. As well as, making communication between the residents and their families or others possible.
- A post-pandemic communications plan to illustrate the vision for services resuming operation is needed.
All five local Healthwatch are following developments in the vaccination programme with interest and continue to listen locally to hear what matters most to people about health and social care. We anticipate that issues such as mental health support, delays to non-COVID health treatments in the hospital, the situation in care homes, and the needs of people with ‘long COVID’ (longer-term continuing illness after an acute episode of COVID-19 illness) will be important topics in the months ahead.