Health body sets out priorities for health care over the next 10 years

Sandie Smith is the chief executive officer for Healthwatch Cambridgeshire

Sandie Smith is the chief executive officer for Healthwatch Cambridgeshire - Credit: Archant

People in Cambridgeshire want faster, easier access to GP services and clear information to help them manage their health, according to a health watchdog.

These are some of the top findings in Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's 'What Would You Do?' report published on July 25.

Healthwatch asked residents what they would do to improve their local NHS as part of a project to help with planning services for the future.

The NHS Long Term Plan, published earlier this year, set out priorities for health care in England over the next 10 years and also noted how £20bn of extra funding will be spent.

Now residents across the region have had a say on what those changes should look like in their community.

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough chief executive Sandie Smith said: "People know that local health and care services are facing big pressures with shortages of staff and money. They want to help and were willing and interested to share their experiences to help shape future services. Whether about staying healthy or living with long-term conditions, people's ideas and preferences reveal some important principles about how they would like to see health and care services develop in the future."

More than 800 people from Cambridgeshire shared their views with Healthwatch on how the extra funding could improve support from NHS services.

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Three in every five people who responded to the survey were those living with a long-term health condition or a disability.

They said they wanted faster, easier access to GP services to help them stay well; health and care that was more joined up, especially for people with one or more long-term health conditions.

They also wanted services that met their needs, often called 'person-centred' and were interested in self-help and wanted more support to find information and the right services to help them stay well.

Many of those who took part in the survey said they often struggled to find the information they needed to manage their health.

Travel and transport difficulties continue to be barriers to effective health care for people in the more rural areas of the county, according to the information.

Healthwatch says it also found a clear digital divide. Although many saw the opportunities of embracing technology - such as making online GP appointments - to manage their health, others felt they would be excluded by this.

The report will be used to help the local NHS develop its own long term plan for Cambridgeshire. It will also be used to develop the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2019-24. This document sets out how organisations will work together with the public to improve people's health, care and wellbeing across the region.