We were asked by NHS England and Improvement to explore the experience of waiting for care. We wanted to understand how waits, delays and cancellations impact on people and their families, particularly those living with long-term, multiple and chronic conditions.
In January we commissioned a review of the existing literature in the Patient Experience Library, together with an analysis of insights collected by Care Opinion. We then carried out over 20 interviews with people with a range of physical and mental health conditions who were at various points in the waiting journey for a mix of appointments and procedures, from first symptoms and diagnosis through to treatment (apart from Accident & Emergency).
The findings have compelling insights into issues around communication, receipt of referral, contacting health and care teams, estimations around length of wait, updates on delays, access to support and self-management and much more.
COVID-19 has led to many cancellations and delays, and it is clear that waiting will be an important feature of healthcare in England in years to come. Health inequalities also impact access to care and treatment and the experience of waiting. This makes the findings in Patient. Noun. Adjective even more important.