139 people took part in the project that ran between April and June 2021. Through discussion with community groups and individuals, people were encouraged to talk freely about what local services would make it easier to access health and care services and to take more control of their own health and wellbeing. The report gives clear insight into what matters most to Rutland people:
- Participants sent a strong message that more diagnostics and treatments must be made available in community health settings closer to home.
- Transport difficulties continue to create a barrier to accessing both distant health and care services and local support and wellbeing activities. There is a feeling that the issues have not been understood as a joint responsibility that must be shouldered by health commissioners, care providers and the local authorities within the Integrated Care System.
- Many people said they need better information and more education, both of which are seen as key to enabling them to maintain their own health and wellbeing.
- Rutland is geographically bounded by Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. Many participants talked of the complexity of access to secondary health and care services which are variously determined by their postcode, the location of their GP practice or where their children go to school. At worst, some found that some services may be unavailable to them.
- The increasing use of technology for health and care consultations and monitoring is embraced by many, but feared by many others. Participants were clear that access to health and care must be available in ways that meet the individual’s needs – online, telephone or face-to-face.
In response to the report, Cllr Alan Walters, Chair of the Rutland Health and Wellbeing Board said;
“On behalf of the Rutland Health and Wellbeing Board, I welcome this report compiled and published by Healthwatch Rutland. It covers not just the areas where we are getting things right at a local level but also the areas in which we need to improve. As we move towards a fully operational Integrated Care System, our commitment to working in conjunction with the people of Rutland has never been stronger. Every effort is currently made to engage directly with individuals and groups around specific changes and initiatives, to make sure your views are heard. However, reports like this highlight that we still have much to do.
The report makes a number of recommendations that can help to guide the important work being done by our Integrated Care System. As a partner organisation within the Integrated Care System, Rutland County Council will use its seat at the table to do everything in its power to turn these recommendations into concrete actions.
We will work with the Rutland Primary Care Network in an effort to improve access to local GPs by reducing waiting times and ensuring a range of convenient appointment options are available to cater to all needs – online/computer, telephone or face-to-face. For those who wish to use technology to engage with Healthcare services but lack the necessary hardware and the skills, we will look to offer training and equipment to support this means of communication."
Commenting on next steps for Healthwatch Rutland, Chair, Dr Janet Underwood said:
“I look forward to working in partnership with health and care commissioners and providers on the Rutland Health and Wellbeing Board to secure the best services possible for local people as Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland move into an Integrated Care System. Healthwatch Rutland will continue to champion people’s opinions and needs as place-based health and care plans are developed and refined in our county.”