Healthwatch North Somerset has warned that health services across North Somerset could be stretched further due to an ageing population declining free check-ups.
The local, independent watchdog surveyed a representative sample of 659 people across North Somerset for their opinions on their GP practice and discovered that 68% of 40- to 74-year-olds were putting their health at risk by neglecting to take advantage of a free health check.
All 40- to 74-year-olds without a pre-existing condition are entitled to a free ‘midlife MOT’ that measures circulation and provides an early warning for a range of conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Eileen Jacques, chief officer of Healthwatch North Somerset, explained that ignoring the offer to discover health issues at an early stage could impact the NHS in the near future.
She said: “I’d strongly urge people to take advantage of the NHS Health Check. It gives people the opportunity to speak with their GP and receive valuable advice for free, in order to transform their lifestyle with a personalised wellbeing plan. More importantly, it can also dramatically prolong someone’s life by identifying serious health issues that may have previously gone unnoticed.
“Failing to take the free check-up now, may mean failing to identify a condition that can be getting progressively worse. Unfortunately, this will usually mean relying on accident and emergency services that are already overloaded in addition to outpatient and social care provisions that wouldn’t have been needed if it had been discovered early.”
As well as highlighting the need for more people to take a free health check, the survey revealed that residents of North Somerset are pleased with the service they receive from their GP practice, with 89% rating it from satisfactory to good.
29% of respondents also admitted that they were too scared to complain to their GP practice due to the fear of repercussions.
Avon Local Medical Committee responded to the survey on behalf of GPs with Philip Kirby, chief executive, commenting: “All North Somerset surgeries are proud of the role of GPs for being responsible for overall patient care. Practices’ complaints procedures include always being happy to listen and they always encourage patients to feedback about their services because this is how they learn and improve.”
Dr Mary Backhouse, chief clinical officer of North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, welcomes the Healthwatch report on General Practice in North Somerset. “Healthwatch is a valuable independent voice for the people of North Somerset to express their views on health and social care services. It is good to see that GP services are valued. We welcome the action points and will work with NHS England, who commission GP services, to make sure these are acted on”.
Eileen added: “It’s a testament to the hard work of everyone who works at a GP practice that so many people are pleased with the service they receive so, luckily, the practices shouldn’t be receiving much negative feedback. If people do wish to complain, however, the process can be hugely complex. As the local health and social care champion, Healthwatch North Somerset can help guide people through the complaints process, and we also publish public feedback regarding GP practices and other health and social care services on our website.”
To share feedback about your GP practice, download the full report or find out more about the free NHS Health Check, visit www.healthwatchnorthsomerset.co.uk.
Notes to Editors
Eileen Jacques, chief officer of Healthwatch North Somerset, is available for comment or interview. For more information, please contact:
Plum Communications & PR
01934 812323 / 07717 756 644 / email@example.com
Image 1: Eileen Jacques, chief officer of Healthwatch North Somerset.
About the survey:
A total of 671 people in North Somerset completed and submitted a GP Survey questionnaire. 12 people have been excluded from the results, giving a respondent base of 659.
The full report is attached with this news release.
About Healthwatch North Somerset:
Healthwatch North Somerset was created by the Health and Social Care Act 2012. It is part of the 148 local Healthwatch organisations that feed into Healthwatch England, influencing local and national policy. Although funded by the Department of Health and commissioned through North Somerset Council it is independent in its work.
Healthwatch North Somerset has been developed and set up to represent the voice of local people in North Somerset on issues of health and social care. It works with those who plan, commission and run local health and social care services to reflect local issues, asking questions about the provision of services and working to ensure local health and social care services reflect the needs of local people.
Healthwatch North Somerset is supported by legislation that gives it a statutory right to be listened to by service providers, while also having the opportunity to review services directly through Enter and View.