There has never been a more important time to learn lessons from the first wave of COVID-19. As infection rates rise again, and the spectre of a second wave looms large, the need to quickly learn from people impacted the most by the suspension of core NHS services is imperative. We must retain the positive changes but avoid repeating the same mistakes again.
At National Voices, we have been listening to, learning from, and capturing people’s experiences. We wanted to make sure those living with ongoing physical or mental ill health or disability, who have been suffering the most due to service suspensions, could tell their stories and be heard.
On 6 October, 10-11.30am, we are sharing with you what they told us, as we launch WHAT WE NEED NOW: What matters to people for health and care during COVID and beyond - new National Voices I Statements 2020.
The statements derive from an online platform we set up when the pandemic began - Our COVID Voices - to enable people to share their stories. We analysed dozens of submissions, identifying key and recurring themes. These included details about the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown on people’s physical and mental health in general, as well as their broad concerns about money, housing and accessing food. But we also homed in on their specific frustrations about information and communication relating to their health and level of risk, access to medicines, and experiences of remote care, service delays and cancellations.
Working with the people who have had these experiences, we have now distilled these key themes into a number of co-produced statements – which we call I Statements – and which we believe sum up what matters to everyone using health and social care right now. These statements include basic, reasonable requests like:
“I am listened to and what I say is acted on”
“I make decisions that are respected, and I have rights that are protected.”
Though reasonable, within the context of the current extraordinary pressures on the NHS, meeting these needs nevertheless amounts to a considerable challenge. Restarting core services while managing COVID-19 as winter sets in – all put the system and the people who work in it under immense strain. We have heard clearly that people understand the unenviable task before healthcare providers, and acknowledge that they may have to wait longer for care. But we also believe that by responding to these I Statements, system leaders and healthcare providers could alleviate some of the negative consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, and they are much more likely to get it right for everyone in the process.
With that in mind, we have identified some practical, concrete actions for those leading the system, and those designing or delivering healthcare, to address the needs expressed in these statements. We believe we can – and must – ensure that the reality of healthcare lives up to the rhetoric of a service that provides free and equal access to high-quality care for all.
Please join us for the launch of our new I Statements on Tuesday 6 October from 10-11.30am to hear from system leaders, healthcare providers and those using healthcare services about why these I Statements are so important, and how they can be used to improve care even in these unprecedented times. Register here.