Tackling health inequalities: access to NHS dental care and support for oral health
Last year, we received a significant number of calls from the public about dentistry and access to NHS dental care. With living costs on the rise, concerns over accessibility and affordability of dental care have heightened and contributed to the discussion around heath inequality.
We are now working with NHS Somerset, who are responsible for commissioning dentistry, to try and understand the current situation around access to NHS dentistry and the impact on the oral health of our communities.
Reducing barriers to care: people’s experiences of accessing GP appointments
It is clear from the feedback we receive that access to GP services remains an area of concern for local people. People tell us they are struggling to make appointments to see their GP, particularly face to face. There is also growing evidence that difficulties accessing primary care services, such as GPs, is leading to increased pressure on acute services, such as hospitals.
We are now looking at the options offered to patients when they contact their GP practice, including appointments with GPs and the role of other health professionals who provide services at GP practices.
Improving access to mental health support for young people
The impact of COVID-19 on young people’s mental health is well documented. It is widely acknowledged that early access to the right mental health support is crucial for recovery, but it’s not always easy for young people and their families to access the services and support they need.
We have been working with our young volunteers to investigate how accessible young people’s mental health services are in Somerset, and to understand how access to support could be improved. Our report (published October 2023) identifies key recommendations aimed at streamlining access to services, improving communication and bolstering support networks for young people.
Intermediate care: short-term care to help people recover after illness or hospital
In early 2023, we reported on people’s experiences of being discharged from hospital and transferred to be cared for at home or in the community. We highlighted some of the positive changes that are being introduced to improve patient rehabilitation and discharge in Somerset’s hospitals.
We will be reviewing and continuing our work to inform improvements in the transfer to care process, by looking at people’s experiences of intermediate care – short-term care provided after illness or a stay in hospital to help people recover and regain independence.
We also work on other projects that arise in response to emerging developments in health and social care and through our involvement with projects to support our local partners.