Skip to main content

What matters most: Healthwatch England Annual Report 2017-18

Presented to Parliament pursuant to section 45 C (2) of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 as inserted by the Health and Social Care Act 2012

Our annual report for 2017-18 provides a summary of the experiences people have shared with Healthwatch and highlights the action we have taken in response. It also gives an overview of the support we give to local Healthwatch, and our future plans.

The total funding local Healthwatch received to carry out their work fell by 7% year on year. Although this has resulted in fewer full-time staff to carry out our work, our volunteer numbers have increased.

Despite having fewer resources, the number of people sharing their experiences with Healthwatch about health and care has risen by a fifth. The number of reports Healthwatch have published telling services the improvements people would like to see has also increased by a similar proportion.

Common themes

No matter which service people use, the public commonly tell us they would like to see:

  • Better information to help them make the right choices
  • Easier access to services and less time spent waiting for support
  • Improved conversations with professionals
  • Services that are well-coordinated

Influencing current services

We have used these views to help improve the services of today. For example, by bringing attention to public concerns, our efforts have contributed to:

  • A sector-wide debate about emergency readmissions The Government has asked NHS England to measure emergency readmissions after our findings showed that the number of people returning to hospital within 48 hours is still rising.
  • Improved dental support for residents in care homes Oral health care will be a standard part of Care Quality Commission inspections after we highlighted that some care home residents struggle to see a dentist.
  • More people with a disability or sensory loss getting information they understand NHS England will provide Easy Read and large print formats of its patient registration forms to GP practices across the country, because we highlighted a need for greater accessibility of information.

Informing future policy

We’re bringing communities and policymakers together to help improve future services. For example, as part of our advisory role for the social care green paper, we highlighted people’s confusion over how to plan for their care, and called on those in charge to provide people with better advice.