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Healthwatch Devon is the independent champion for health and social care covering the largest local authority area in the South West of England with a population of 814,440 in 2021.

We take your experiences of using health and care services - both good and bad, and share these with those who have the power to make change happen.

What you are telling us

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NHS England January A&E figures

The latest data released by NHS England shows that number of people waiting more than 12 hours in A&E departments in England from a decision to admit to actually being admitted went down by more than a fifth in a month.

In total, 42,735 people waited longer than 12 hours in January, which is down 22% from a record 54,532 in December.

Healthwatch England have responded: 

“A&E departments have been under great pressure this winter, and public confidence in urgent and emergency care has fallen.

Last week NHS England published their urgent and emergency care recovery plan, which sets out concrete ambitions to ensure patients are seen more quickly by ambulances and in emergency departments.

Yet, at the same time, NHS England lowered the national performance target against the four-hour waiting time standard from 95% to 76%.

While the latest figures show signs of improvements to the four-hour target and indicate that the heroic efforts of doctors, nurses and paramedics have started to turn the tide, there is still a long way to go.

Importantly, managing pressures and focusing on short-term improvements should come alongside a longer-term ambition to return to previous levels of service, as promised to patients in the NHS constitution. We know this won’t happen overnight, but we need to see a trajectory of recovery, taking patients and families on a journey with the NHS without compromising on quality of care.

To help rebuild public confidence while tackling systemic challenges, including workforce pressures, the NHS can also share additional information with patients on the areas we know are most important to patients when seeking urgent care. People have told us these include: how long they will wait to get assessed, and being prioritised if their condition is more serious.”

Read the article on our website
Click the play button to watch the video on YouTube

Anything is possible – New films support vaccines and health checks for people with a learning disability

People who have a learning disability and those who care for them are being reminded that it’s not too late for them to have a free flu vaccination and additional Covid-19 booster. Preventing Covid-19 and flu is particularly important for people with learning disabilities, who are much more vulnerable to both viruses.

A series of three new films, launched by NHS Devon and Devon County Council highlight the importance of having both the vaccinations and annual health checks.

The films follow Damon, who has a learning disability and is needle phobic as he has his vaccination and Kylie, who also has a learning disability and is a carer for her mum.

Dr Rachel Gaywood, NHS Devon’s Strategic Clinical Lead for Learning Disability and Autism said: “It is very important to have the vaccines, to help prevent you from becoming very ill. We know some people feel nervous about it, but there are lots of things that we can do to make you feel more comfortable about having the vaccination."

Click here to find out more

Carers Alert Card

Have you ever worried what might happen if you suddenly became ill or had an accident whilst you were out? How would you let people know that someone is dependent on you for care?

The Alert Card is designed to be carried in your purse, wallet or handbag. A handy credit-card size, it identifies you as a carer so that if you find yourself in an emergency situation where you are unable to inform people yourself, the card will be used to alert a 24-hour emergency call centre and they will ring your nominated contacts on your behalf.

Learn more about the alert card here

Have you struggled to access health and care services this winter?

The NHS is facing added pressures this winter. This means that it can be more challenging for people to receive the care they need.
Feedback from the public can play a vital role in helping health and social care services understand what is working and spot issues affecting the care of local people.

If you or a loved one have used GPs, hospitals, pharmacies, care homes or other support services this winter, we want to hear about your experience.

Share your feedback here

RD&E Wonford emergency department’s new entrance is now open

The next major milestone of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital’s Wonford Emergency Department (ED) redesign is now complete. As of 13 February, the entrance will no longer be through the main hospital site, and will instead be via the entrance on Church Hill, which is where it was before the works started.

This milestone, alongside other key changes to the new department which will be completed over the coming months, will help to accommodate the increasing number of people accessing the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s emergency and urgent care services.

Following the completion of this, work to further extend the Trust’s emergency and urgent care services will begin, which includes a dedicated children’s ED area and new children’s admissions unit. This is in the final stages of design and work is likely to commence in the late summer. This will further increase the teams capacity to manage the increasing urgent care demands of younger people, within the comfort of children-friendly surroundings.

Click here to find out more

Lift someone out of loneliness

Loneliness is an issue that can affect us all, young or old, at any point in our lives. We might live in a busy city or a rural location, on our own or with others and still feel isolated.

We all experience feeling lonely in different ways. This means there are a range of ways we can try to overcome loneliness, and we need to identify the help and support that works for us. It's really important to remember that loneliness and difficult feelings can pass.

Know someone who might be feeling lonely?

There are some simple things you can do that could give them a lift. Like inviting them for a walk, catching up over coffee or sending a text. And as over half of us have felt lonely at some point, it may help you feel less lonely too.

In the past, Healthwatch Devon conducted an independent inquiry to help public understanding of the causes of loneliness and through joint working find out how public services and community organisations can help those feeling lonely. Read the report here.

Click here for advice on how to tackle loneliness

Make a Difference Awards

BBC Radio's Make a Difference Awards are back for another year to celebrate people who are going above and beyond to make a difference where you live.

The awards are a chance to say “Thank You” and show recognition and appreciation for people who love to make life better for others.

Nominations close Sunday 5 March 2023 at 11:00pm

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges and awards will be given in each category, across each local BBC radio station.

For more information click here

Top up your immunity this winter

Flu vaccination is important because, while flu is unpleasant for most people, it can be dangerous and even life threatening for some people, particularly those with certain health conditions.

The flu vaccine is given free on the NHS to adults who:

  • are 50 and over

  • have certain health conditions

  • are pregnant

  • are in long-stay residential care

  • receive a carer's allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick

  • live with someone who is more likely to get a severe infection due to a weakened immune system

If you're eligible for the free flu vaccine, it's likely you can get the COVID-19 seasonal booster.

Book your flu vaccine and Covid-19 booster today:

Learn more about the flu vaccination here

Cost of living crisis statement by SignHealth

SignHealth are a passionate and caring Deaf-led team working towards a future where there are no barriers to good health and wellbeing for Deaf people, they partner with the NHS and service providers across the country.

Get regular updates from SIgnHealth here

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Posted in SHDC.