More people in Herefordshire believe their local NHS is providing a good service since the primary care trust joined together with the council in close partnership working.
Now 83 per cent of local people are satisfied with NHS Herefordshire compared with 66 per cent three years ago. Public satisfaction with the NHS in Herefordshire is also substantially higher than the overall satisfaction with the NHS in the West Midlands region (72 per cent) and higher than the national level of satisfaction (73 per cent).
The research, undertaken by Ipsos Mori and commissioned by the Department of Health, shows that Herefordshire is number two in the league table of 17 trusts in the region when it comes to a positive perception of service. Herefordshire people are also least likely to feel local healthcare needs improvement. Three out of four residents said their local NHS Herefordshire services need no or little improvement.
People in Herefordshire are most happy about the quality of medical treatment by their GPs and the short amount of time it takes to get an appointment with them. They are also pleased with the information provided about local healthcare and access to services to improve their own health.
But priorities for improvement in Herefordshire echoed those of people identified across the West Midlands. Most important was improved cleanliness of local hospitals, according to 16 per cent of local people. Shorter time spent waiting in accident and emergency were called for by 14 per cent and 11 per cent said they also want easier access to NHS dentists. Care for the elderly was not seen as needing any improvement in Herefordshire.
“It is very encouraging that most people feel their local NHS services have got better since we joined up management teams and many services with the local authority”, said Chris Bull, chief executive of both NHS Herefordshire and Herefordshire Council.
“But there is plenty of work still to do. NHS Herefordshire recently launched its strategy for improvement – called Healthy Herefordshire – and while it is true that the local population as a whole lives longer than average and is comparatively healthy, it is still a concern that nearly one in eight people have poorer quality of life, health and wellbeing”.
NHS Herefordshire, working closely with Herefordshire Council and other partners, has set the challenge over the next four years of improving the health and life chances of two groups in particular. These are young people (affected by poverty, poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking and taking risks with sexual behaviour), and the increasingly ageing population (who need more care and support to live with dignity in their own homes, often in remote rural areas).