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Healthwatch England Annual Report 2012/13

Our first report outlines two fundamental parts of our work so far. They are:

  • an overview of the current state of health and social care in England. We commissioned research including a survey and a face to face deliberative event, so we could understand what people really think about the care they receive
  • an explanation of the role of Healthwatch England and local Healthwatch, as well as reporting on our activity for the first six months of our life, from 1 October 2012 to 31 March 2013.

Health and social care is fundamental to the people in this country. They are best able to articulate what they want from their care. That is why all of our work starts with the consumers’ point of view.

We have been working with members of the public and this report contains quotes from them throughout.

Our survey found that 72% of the public say they get good quality care. This is heartening. It might, at first sight, seem surprising that almost 94% of us think NHS and social care services could be improved.

The reason for this quickly becomes clear when you dig a bit deeper. A shocking 1 in 3 people say they are worried about basic levels of safety, with someone they know having experienced a serious mistake, abuse or preventable illness or death.

Taken together, these findings demonstrate the need for a fundamental change that puts the user at the heart of the service. To help drive this change, we think a set of rights in health and social care can help people become more empowered and engaged and help service providers and commissioners focus on the things that matter most to users and their carers.

The concept of consumer rights is a familiar one in many areas of our lives. Nowhere more so than on the high street. We thought it could help people get what they want and need in health and social care. Our research shows that the public agree and they have helped us to develop a set of consumer rights that they think work in health and social care.