We’ve surveyed more than 100 people going for a blood test to find out about their experience. We visited the walk-in phlebotomy clinic at the Royal Berkshire Hospital twice, once in the morning from its opening time of 7.30am, on 18 January, and again on 25 January during its afternoon hours. The responses will tell us if people would prefer in the future to get a blood test done at their GP surgery or the hospital, and whether they prefer a walk-in or a booked appointment system. We’ll let you know the findings in due course.
We shared our views with Reading East MP, Matt Rodda, on local health and care issues when we met him at a Healthwatch England parliamentary reception on 21 January. The reception was arranged by Sarah Wollaston MP, who chairs the House of Commons health and social care select committee. We also met with Healthwatch England chair Sir Robert Francis, who has helped to win extra funding for local Healthwatch to ask people what they think of the new NHS Long Term Plan.
We have won assurances for patients at GP surgeries if their surgery ever shuts down in the future, in a review carried out into how the closure of Priory Avenue Surgery in Caversham last year was handled. People would get at least one month to say which GP surgery they want to join and there would be better communication about options and timeframes. Healthwatch Reading gave evidence to the review, which was carried out by Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (which funds and oversees local GP services) and which was made public at a primary care meeting on 9 January.
We visited a group of pregnant women aged 16-18, at a midwife-run class in Southcote on 15 January to find out their hopes and wishes for their care, now and in the future. They told us they’d really like better NHS guides on what happens to their bodies and their babies during pregnancy and birth – such as more information in Plain English and bullet points. They also talked about how they get information from TV programmes like One Born Every Minute, or You Tube videos. And they told us of the importance of their own mums, who many had chosen to be their birthing partners.
Council teams and NHS staff will be sent a report we wrote outlining concerns about care of people with mental health needs so they can address the issues we raised. The commitment comes in a joint council and NHS response made public on 18 January, at a meeting of the Reading Health and Wellbeing Board. Our report was based on a forum we held with the Reading Advice Network, at which charities told us that they were increasingly dealing with people with complex needs who felt that social services or the NHS had not been able to help them properly during a mental health crisis.
We’ve created a new guide for organisations on Involving People, especially those described as ‘seldom heard’, such as people with learning disabilities or people who do not have English as a first language. ‘The Council and the [NHS Berkshire West] Clinical Commissioning Group welcome this guide as an aid to ensuring both organisations meet not only their statutory duties in terms of involving people but also adopt and develop best practice in this area,’ the organisations said in a joint response made public on 18 January. We produced the guide after going out and speaking to a diverse range of groups, which also included refugees and people who are homeless.