We wanted to hear what people in this area wanted the NHS to look like over the next 10 years. In Sheffield, we worked with our neighbours Healthwatch Doncaster, Healthwatch Rotherham, Healthwatch Barnsley, and Healthwatch Nottinghamshire to cover the South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw region.
Across South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw, over 1300 people completed our survey, and 230 people attended 15 focus groups.
What do people in the region want the future of their care to look like?
The key messages we heard were around mental health, easier access to services where people live, and improving the use of technology to access care options.
Improved access to Mental Health services
- Over 37% of respondents had used local services to help manage either their own mental wellbeing/emotional health or that of someone they care for.
- Nearly 85% of respondents supported the idea of joined up care for physical and mental health
“Mental health is often connected to physical wellbeing and treating them both holistically is very important”
- Many people said they benefitted from face-to-face conversations with professionals (such as CBT and IAPT), and from the availability and access to community services. This was especially helpful for people whose first language is not English, and was a key service that people would like to see more of.
- People would also like the waiting times for initial referrals as well as follow up appointments to be shorter, as well as improving the communication between patients and health professionals.
Easier access to services where people live
- People we spoke to thought that prevention was extremely important, and felt that having easier access to information, peer support groups, and sports/activities would help them to manage their own health and stay well for longer. There was also a lot of support for social prescribing and more investment in the voluntary and community sector in order to support this.
- One proposal in the NHS Long Term Plan was supported by a lot of people – the suggestion that children and young people could access mental health services in their school or college.
“There are increasing problems in schools and universities – suicide, bullying, eating disorders, therefore the investment commitments highlighted are very important”
- When asked what worked well currently in terms of accessing local services, many people mentioned peer support groups and community based services, which people tended to describe as approachable, helpful, and supportive. In particular, many people highlighted their community pharmacy as a good first step in managing their own health.
Better use of technology to access care
The NHS Long Term Plan makes commitments to “upgrade technology and digitally enabled care across the NHS”.
People in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw were clear about how they want this to work, showing great support for the following proposals:
- Having access to services using my phone or computer
- Being able to make appointments online and my options are not limited
- Absolute confidence that my personal data is managed well and kept secure
- Having results communicated to me quickly making best use of technology
- Being able to talk to my doctor or other health care professional wherever I am
However, people also shared concerns about an over reliance on digital services – technology should be used to enhance the current care people receive, not replace it.
“Not all groups can access technology including some vulnerable people such as the elderly. Face to face interaction is often better for some”
Local Healthwatch (and all the people who shared their experiences and ideas with us) played a key role in the engagement activity that the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System (SYB ICS) has undertaken with patients and the public. It is expected that in total they will have heard from approximately 2000 people from the region – 1500 of these views were gathered by local Healthwatch.
All of the findings will be analysed, including the local Healthwatch report, and the resultant report will be used to focus the development of the SYB 5 year plan.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to take the survey, to talk to us at stalls, and get in touch via any other means. Your voice really will make a difference in the future of the NHS in Sheffield and beyond.