What are the main concerns for patients in Northumberland?

GP appointments, mental health and access to healthcare services remain key concerns for patients in Northumberland, according to a recent survey.

Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 10:58 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 11:05 am
Berwick Infirmary has been the subject of campaigning by residents concerned about access to healthcare services.

Healthwatch Northumberland, the independent champion for people who use health and social care services in the county, carries out a survey each year.

Project coordinator Derry Nugent presented the initial findings of the 2019 survey to Tuesday’s (April 30) meeting of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing committee.

She reported that this year’s had the largest response they had received for an annual survey, with 770 people sharing their views, an increase of 35% on last year.

The responses came from all over the county, with just two top-level postcode areas not represented, but – perhaps unsurprisingly – almost two-thirds of feedback (62%) came from the predominantly rural Tynedale and north Northumberland areas.

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The overall trend over three years is steady with 64% of respondents this year saying their experiences of health and social care over the last 12 months were good or excellent.

The number who answered poor (13%) also remained similar to last year, despite there being a ‘huge jump’ from 2017 to 2018. The remaining 23% said their experiences were satisfactory.

Summarising some initial trends from the responses, Ms Nugent said that GPs receive many favourable comments but that appointments are still a concern – although the focus is now more about actually getting them than the process for doing so.

She also said that communication within and between services causes concern across the board, while fewer worries were reported about patient transport this year.

Respondents identified five priorities for specific focus by Healthwatch Northumberland in 2019-20 – mental-health services, dementia care, home care, GP services and access.