The COVID-19 pandemic has had a drastic effect on people’s lives and forced health and social care services to change how they operate. To see how local services have been working longer term, we followed up a previous survey that we completed in 2020, where we asked Wandsworth residents about their views on how the pandemic affected their health and wellbeing and their health and social care.
What we did
We published an online survey to find out from people living in Wandsworth about what they feel has worked well or less well in the last year for health and social care services and how things should develop in the future. Questions included in the survey covered topics such as physical health, mental health and wellbeing, access to various services and information and support received from such services. We also asked respondents about what they thought Healthwatch Wandsworth’s top priorities should be in the next year. The survey was open from March 2021 to May 2021, and we received 150 responses.
We also co-hosted a coffee morning with Wandsworth Carers’ Centre and attended a workshop with Generate to hear about people's experiences during Covid-19 and lockdown. The Carers Coffee Morning session was attended by 13 carers and the Generate workshop was attended by 8 members with learning difficulties.
Many people felt that despite the pandemic, health and social care services provided sufficient and excellent help and support. For all conclusions and recommendations see the final chapter of our report. Highlights include:
- Emergency care and regular health check-ups were said to be available as normal only with minor delays.
- The information provided by GP services and the vaccination programme were particularly praised.
However, a lot of people reported having difficulties with accessing various health and social care services, which in turn has led to the deterioration of their overall health.
- People’s mental health suffered due to the pandemic, and many struggled to get timely access to NHS mental health services.
- Cancelled and rescheduled appointments and surgeries were a source of anxiety to most people, and many of them commented on these delays negatively impacting their physical and mental health.
- Respondents reported difficulties booking GP appointments.
- People who were caring for someone else felt that there was a lack of support and information from social care services and an impact on their mental health.
- Lastly, people commented on the issues in communication between services and towards patients.
Therefore, our recommendations included that services consider:
- Provision of communications and transparency about appointment accessibility and waiting times for services whilst signposting to alternative support.
- Provide support to carers, people with learning disabilities and others who might find it difficult to get an appointment due to their circumstances.
- Review and monitor how long it takes to access services.
- Provide more support to people with information about coping and managing their mental health and quick routes to seek more support if needed.
What happens next
This information will be used to feed back to local services to make sure they understand what is working and areas of improvements in order to provide the support people need.
Read more in our report
We are grateful to those who shared their experiences with us. To hear the rich picture of experiences, please do read our report, which can be downloaded below.