Healthwatch Enfield is helping to shape the future of NHS primary care services, writes Claire Fisher
You may have heard that the NHS published its long-term plan last month, but did you notice the promise that “patients will be able to access virtual services alongside face-to-face services via a computer or smartphone”?
Here at Healthwatch Enfield it is our role to ensure your views are represented and used to help develop future health and social care services. That’s why we recently published our report Using technology to ease the burden on primary care which shows the results of our survey of more than 1,000 Enfield residents. We asked how they felt about using online technology to contact their GP, as well as finding out how existing technology such as appointment booking and prescription services are already being used.
Our research found that on average, two in three patients said they would use a trusted NHS symptom checker app, video calling, and/or email, to contact their GP to seek medical help. It also showed that appointment bookings and repeat prescriptions technology is being under-used because of problems with accessing it.
So what happens next? As the largest survey of its kind in the UK, our timely report and analysis generated a considerable deal of interest from leading health providers. We presented our research findings to very receptive digital technology leads at NHS England and NHS Digital. Our research has made a compelling case for involving patients in co-designing these future systems as a go-to model for shaping future primary care services.
We also highlighted sensitivities around patients not ready, or not equipped to make the switch to ‘virtual’ communications. We will continue to be involved in conversations with all of these providers to support the development of future services in a way that works for Enfield residents.
Thank you to all our readers who participated in this research. It goes to show that your voice really does count and together we can make change happen.
In other news, we are running a new survey alongside Enfield Council to assess residents’ awareness of the early signs and symptoms of cancer, to help develop a new cancer awareness campaign. It is really easy to give your views and only takes a few minutes – just complete our online survey at smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CancerAwareness