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Health survey reveals wide challenges to care in the town

Tuesday, 23rd September 2014.

Patients and the public in Haverhill have asked for greater investment to improve access to health services in the town.

This follows research conducted by Healthwatch Suffolk, the consumer champion for health and care services in the county.

It found that patients were finding it difficult to obtain appointments to visit a doctor because they considered that there were not enough GPs and doctors surgeries available.

Throughout May to July 2014, the public were invited by Healthwatch Suffolk to give views through surveys and a focus group which was held at the town's Leisure Centre.

Many people consider health services to be an important topic in the town and 627 people responded in total.

Healthwatch Suffolk initiated the project in response to local feedback that it received regarding the services including information from the town council.

The survey found that:
43 per cent of respondents were not happy with services provided by their GP surgery;
419 (68 per cent) people said that they lacked confidence that they could obtain an appointment to see a doctor when they needed one.

The figures, when broken down by practice, are as follows:
o 234 (77 per cent) patients of the Christmas Maltings and Clements practice;
o 143 (70 per cent) patients of the Christmas Maltings practice;
o 37 (40 per cent) patients of the Stourview Medical Centre.

People found it easy to cancel appointments. Experience of this process was generally positive.

Qualitative feedback about the services indicated that patients want access to extended opening hours and alternative services such as the popular walk-in centre that used to the serve the town.

People also expressed that there are not enough doctors or surgeries to meet the needs of Haverhill and that there needs to be an easier process through which people can book appointments to see a doctor.

During the research, Healthwatch Suffolk received information about plans to merge two of the practices into one surgery.

It was therefore important to incorporate the views of local patients on these plans.

Responses (52 in total) in this area showed that:
18 (40 per cent) people who responded to this question were negative about the merger, 16 (37 per cent) were positive and four (nine per cent) were neutral.
Six people (14 per cent) were unaware of the plans.
Patient comments indicate that patients have a mixed understanding of what the merger will mean for them and 67 per cent of 46 individuals said that they had concerns.
A majority (29, 64 per cent) of patients expressed the view that they would like the merged practice to run from two sites in the town as with existing arrangements.

Healthwatch Suffolk chief executive Annie Topping said: I would like to thank everyone that took part to contribute their views.

"While this work has focused on GP services in Haverhill, we believe that the results are indicative of wider challenges faced by our local health and care system.

Haverhill Online News

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