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First Steps to Health report published

01/06/2015

Picture of a pair of feet in colourful toe less socks, with smiling faces on the toesOver 1,000 people told us what their First Steps to Health would be, in an innovative survey to find out about local people's attitudes to using primary care services. 

We wanted to know what you would do about different health problems that you or someone you knew was experiencing. Would you treat it yourself, search for information, see a pharmacist, call NHS 111 or visit your GP?

The First Steps to Health report was published at the end of May and includes a number of recommendations for our local GP Practices and our health commissioners, NHS England and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (C&PCCG).

My family can normally see the GP relatively easily without too much effort. There have been a couple of times where we have struggled.Our Chief Executive, Sandie Smith, will be formally writing to these organisations with a copy of the report, asking for a response to our recommendations. When we make a formal report or recommendations to local commissioners or providers; they must respond to this within 20 working days, or 30 working days for more complex requests.

Our recommendations for GP practices include providing guidance for patients on how telephone triage works and the alternatives that are available to people who cannot easily use the telephone. We found that most people were positive about their experiences of using their GP surgeries, although a significant number of people commented on negative experiences with front line staff and problems with systems for getting emergency appointments.  

I find it difficult to get appointments. I had a routine blood test a couple of months ago but cannot get the results as was told to phone (I can't phone as deaf) so called in person but was told again to phone so gave up.

We were told about difficulties getting care by deaf and hearing impaired people. We were told about problems with translation services for emergency appointments. People told us how hard it can be to talk to front line staff about booking a GP appointment for a mental health problem.

We recommend that people with additional communication needs should be told how their communication needs will be met for both routine and urgent appointments. 

We also recommend that front line staff should receive training in mental health awareness and helping people with additional communication needs.  

I hate having to be asked whether it's an emergency. How do you define e,ergemncy when its mental health issue or you're incredibly uncomfortable?  It's subjective. There have been times where I've really felt it important that I see a doctor but haven't felt comfortable or confident enougyh to say that my situation was an emergency.

Most people could manage without medical advice on some health issues but not others, however for each of our questions, there were some people whose first step would always be to ask for a GP appointment.  Our evidence suggests that people are not always aware of or using the alternatives available.

Our recommendations to C&P CCG and NHS England include looking at more targeted advertising  for alternatives to GP services, such as pharmacy and NHS 111. We also felt that there should be more information available on how young people can get support with mental health issues.

We will be formally launching this report at our Volunteer Celebration event later in June, to thank our volunteers for their hard work in helping us with this and other projects. We will write to the Commissioners and providers after this date and will let you know what they say and do as a result of our report. 

Please do get in touch if you have an experience of using local health or care services and want to use this to help improve care services for others. You can call us on 01480 420628 or fill in our Tell Us form.

Downloads

First Steps to Health - Executive Summary

First Steps to Health - full report

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