NHS Long term plan

Healthwatch England secured funding to ensure local Healthwatch can support public engagement on the NHS Long Term Plan and contribute to the development of a local plan in the East London Health and Care Partnership.
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We delivered two focus groups with semi-structured questions, with people with learning disabilities and people with physical and sensory impairments. The engagement was delivered over April and May 2019.

Key findings

  • Patients with learning disabilities or disabilities need to be informed about GP extended appointments. This will help patients explaining their ill-health and understand treatment and save GP time in the long-run.
  • GPs should explain medication to patients, including changes, how and when to take it and how and when to use repeat prescriptions. We have consistent feedback that this does not happen, leading to confusion and problems later on.
  • Patients responded positively to social prescribing and Newham Self-Care Programme and had ideas about how this can work well for people with learning disabilities and people with disabilities.
  • There needs to be improved communications about awareness of cancer symptoms and screening. Some patients are not presenting to GPs with symptoms or do not feel listened to, resulting in late presentation or other health complications. We recognise that nationally, NHS and Public Health staff have experienced challenges with the IT screening systems, we think this emphasises why local information and contacts are vital in informing Newham residents and helping them seek medical help when needed.
  • Patients had good feedback on individual GPs and pharmacists which will be shared with these providers and Newham CCG.


Learning Disability

  • GPs and practice staff to have bite-sized training/guidance to remind them of the challenges and barriers that people with learning disabilities may face and to better support such patients in their healthcare.
  • This could be through always arranging double appointments; printing information about conditions in Easy Read for patients to take away.
  • Nursing staff or health care assistants to be available to answer questions and provide information about conditions or procedures.
  • GP/nurses to explain and remind patients of cancer screening services at annual health checks and other appointments and provide information for patients in Easy Read other languages to take away.
  • To explore whether wellbeing and prevention programmes, such as those for diabetes, have staff with awareness or training to support people with learning disabilities, which would help them participate in the group and in the exercises.
  • To develop healthy eating and weight sessions for participants with learning disabilities, with guidance from nutritionists and on weight management and exercise programmes.

Physical Disability:

  • GP staff to actively offer extended appointments to patients with disabilities or long-term complex conditions.
  • GPs to be reminded to listen to the patient first of all and focus on the main issue they are presenting regardless of their disability.
  • GPs should clearly explain any change in medication or the brand of medication. This is vitally important for people with visual impairments.
  • GP/nurses to explain and remind patients of cancer screening services and provide information for patients in accessible formats on symptoms and screening.

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