A NEW report from an independent health service in Dorset reveals local people’s experiences of health and social care during the first six months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The majority of feedback was about GPs, followed by hospitals, pharmacy, dentistry, mental health services and social care.

Feedback was also gathered about a range of other services including NHS 111, care homes, opticians, emergency care, and voluntary sector services.

Several key themes emerged from the report, namely that Dorset residents appreciated the challenges of providing care, but nevertheless remained anxious about the future.

Virtual appointments were seen to have worked well for the majority of people, but not everyone, whilst some people criticised the national advice from central government, saying that, overall, messages were not always made clear.

A particular focus was also made to voluntary services, with many residents praising the hard work of volunteers during the pandemic.

Healthwatch Dorset manager Louise Bate said: “This is a good and timely point to reflect on how Covid-19 has affected people’s experience of health and social care in Dorset and the country. NHS and social care providers faced pressures like never before in the face of the pandemic. New and modified models of health and care delivery have been introduced – changes have worked better for some people than for others.

“It has never been more important that the voices of people who use health and social care services are heard.

“Our report will help providers understand how to adapt and deliver effective care for everyone in these challenging and changing circumstances.”

NHS Dorset CCG director of nursing and quality Vanessa Read said: “We’d like to thank Healthwatch Dorset for the work that they have been doing during Covid-19 to seek the views of the public across Dorset on health and care services, and very much value the insights and feedback that they have provided.

“We have used these insights both in the Dorset health and care silver group and the quality surveillance group.”

Between April and September 2020, 179 Dorset residents shared 284 different comments about how their health and care had been affected by Covid-19, helping to identify where changes to services have worked well and where improvements could be made.