Patients urged to challenge GPs and hospitals more

Patients urged to challenge GPs and hospitals more

The consumer health and social care organisation Healthwatch England that represents 152 local patient bodies, has launched its first annual report to parliament.


Healthwatch England: Annual Report 2012-13 details a survey carried out for the organisation by YouGov of 2,286 people which found that one in three of people experienced or knew someone who had experienced abuse, neglect or malpractice whilst being cared for.


More than half who had experienced poor care in the last three years did not report it because they said they did not trust the system to act.


Overall, satisfaction levels were high with 72% of people saying that they receive good quality care, but the vast majority (94%) said the nation’s health and social care services needed to improve.


Healthwatch England said the results showed the public had serious concerns about the way they were treated and cared for and they should speak out more when things went wrong.


It outlined eight consumer rights:


the right to essential services

the right to access

the right to a safe, dignified and quality service

the right to information and education

the right to choose

the right to be listened to

the right to be involved

the right to live in a healthy environment.

The report says people should be able to access the treatment and services they need, irrespective of where they live or who they are and have a clear sense of what they are entitled to.


However, this was sometimes an issue when it came to primary care.


“People felt that easy and timely access to GPs is particularly important as they are often the gatekeeper for access to other medical services,” says the report, but one person responding to the survey is quoted as saying: “Getting appointments at GP surgeries is a joke. They forget we all have jobs. There are no loopholes or ways round it. You just cannot get an appointment.”


Anna Bradley, chair of Healthwatch England, said: “Whether we are visiting A&E or require meals on wheels, the problem is the same. Few of us know what to expect from our care.


“Just seeing ourselves as having rights changes the game. It gets us thinking differently, asking different types of questions and helps us demand the standard of treatment and care we deserve.


“We all need to stop acting like grateful patients and care users, and start to see ourselves as savvy consumers, insisting on our right to safe, dignified and high quality care.


“Over the next year, we will be testing this framework and where necessary we will use our statutory powers to make the politicians and policy makers listen and take action to empower all of us to speak our minds and ensure we get the services we need.”

By Adrian O'Dowd

OnMedica, 9th October 2013

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