Devon's Views on NHS Plans

(Last Updated On: July 10, 2019)

New report looks at what over 1,000 residents in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay said about the NHS Long Term Plan.

A new report has been produced by Healthwatch Torbay which brings together evidence from residents living in areas covered by Healthwatch Devon, Plymouth and Torbay as part of the recent NHS Long Term Plan survey.

Nearly 1,000 Devon residents, patients and their families took part in the NHS Long Term Plan survey which asked ‘What Would You do?’ Activities, including surveys and focus groups for specific medical conditions, encouraged people in the county to share their views on how extra money from the Government should be spent on local NHS services.

The public were also asked to give their views on improving local services, share their ideas on how people can live healthier lives and what improvements they think could be made to help people access services quickly.

Themes covered in the report include waiting times, continuity of care, NHS funding and resources, patient-staff communication, the closure of local services, and promotion of preventative care.

The key messages from residents were:

  • they would like to see the NHS focus on preventative medicine and early detection of illness, and also a reduction in the time they wait to see their GP or receive a referral;
  • they are concerned about the accessibility and quality of care in their area, especially due to the lack of public transport in areas of Devon, with those in rural areas describing difficulties in travelling to GP and hospital appointments;
  • they are concerned about the quality and affordability of local residential homes;
  • many suffering with autism, dementia, and mental health were unhappy with their experience of care, reporting long waiting times and difficulty accessing support, whereas many suffering with cancer said the opposite;
  • the NHS would benefit from better communication between services, allowing a more integrated or holistic approach to their treatment;
  • their medical treatment should be a joint decision made in partnership with staff;
  • mental health awareness and overcoming the stigma of the condition in receiving diagnosis and treatment is very important;
  • they would like to see improvements in the use of technology and online services, with many wanting to see more of their GP services available online;
  • they were still, however, concerned that some local services are too reliant on online services (often at the expense of those who cannot use or access a computer), about the security of their personal data and ‘a future where personal contact is replaced by technology’.

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Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!