Hundreds of people in Dorset have shared their views on how to improve NHS health services in the county.

Quicker and easier access to GPs; speedier diagnosis and treatment options; annual health checks and more regular support for those with long-term conditions, were the top four things people in Dorset would like to see implemented.

Their views were shared as part of Healthwatch Dorset’s What Would You Do? campaign and the findings are revealed in a report published today.

More than 300 residents, patients and their families took part in What Would You do? activities, which launched in April to encourage people in the county to share their views about how extra money from the Government should be spent on local NHS services.

The public were asked to give their views about how local services could improve, and to share ideas about the NHS can help people live healthier lives and take more control of their care.

The report also reveals people would like:

  • More services based in local communities so that people do not have to travel long distances to access healthcare
  • Better transport provision to help people to access health and care services, particularly for those in more rural parts of the county
  • Easy access to good quality, accessible information to help people to make informed conditions about their care and treatment.  In particular, people would like to see more information around long-term conditions.  Easy read versions should also be available
  • Clearer information around end-of-life care and support
  • More support for carers and quicker access to carers assessments
  • Easier access to first line mental health support to help prevent people from reaching crisis point
  • More places to exercise that are free or cheap.  More information, including easy read versions around healthy eating on a budget
  • Better sharing of health records between NHS services across the country.  A single NHS platform so that health records can be accessed wherever someone is receiving treatment
  • Better awareness across the health service of the needs of those with a learning disability or autism when accessing care and treatment including respite and residential care
  • Respect for those with a learning disability, listening to their concerns and treating them with dignity helping them to maintain their best level of independence at all times.

Louise Bate, Manager at Healthwatch Dorset said: “The Government is investing an additional £20 billion a year in the NHS as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.  We were asked to help find out what local people thought was the best way for the NHS in Dorset to invest in the right services as part of this plan.

“It was wonderful to listen to so many people keen to make a difference in our local NHS.  These views are all in the report and we will now monitor how the local NHS responds.”

89-year-old James Sanger, from Poole shared his views on the NHS Long Term Plan with us.  He looked after his wife Phil for seven years after she was diagnosed with vascular dementia.  She died last May after her condition deteriorated.  He said he received first-class help from his local surgery but noted others in the county didn’t receive the same level of care.

He said: “I would like to see as part of the NHS Long Term Plan better communication to dementia patients and their families on the help and support available to them.  After Phil was diagnosed with dementia at Lilliput Surgery, the very next day nurses came to visit us and we got all the support we needed.  I have nothing negative to say about the health care we received, we had magnificent support from the surgery particularly from the district nurses.

“But if you happen to live in an area in Dorset where the surgery doesn’t support you so well, things can be very different.  Speaking to other carers, I was shocked and amazed at the lack of support they were getting.  I think the surgeries were not communicating with them and people were not aware of the facilities and support available to them.”

Responding to the report, Dorset ICS leader Tim Goodson said: “Healthwatch Dorset has done a great job reaching out to our communities and asking them for their views.  I would like to thank them and everyone who took part because it’s really important we hear what’s important to local people, where they think we need to do better and where they think we should focus our efforts for the future.

“This report and the views that it shares will influence and help to shape the health and wellbeing plan for the next few years in Dorset, which is being developed now by our local councils and NHS services.  We are fully committed to continuing to seek people’s views and acting on them wherever possible, alongside the population health evidence that we have.

“The conclusion of the report that people are willing to take charge of their health with the support of services is important because it challenges the traditional view that people only access health and care services when their health or wellbeing has already declined.

“We need to keeping challenging that traditional view and move to a position where people and communities have charge of their health and wellbeing with the responsive services to support them.  We will always need to ensure high quality services and care when they are needed, and we must have more of those focused on preventing ill-health and giving people the information and support they need to stay healthy and live well.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to get involved and let us know what they think as part of our next phase of engagement.  They can find out more information online at www.ourdorset.nhs.uk.”

The report, NHS Long Term Plan: The views of Dorset residents, will be shared with the local NHS and can be viewed here: www.healthwatchdorset.co.uk/reports-publications/.