City patients ‘burned out’ under creaking healthcare services

The chief executive of a Liverpool health watchdog has warned patients and the public are “burned out” as healthcare services edge “a little bit closer to crisis.”

As the city basks in what could be the last of the hot weather before another potentially challenging winter for the NHS, Sarah Thwaites warned people across Liverpool were facing the strains on regional primary care services. The Healthwatch Liverpool chief executive told members of the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board the experiences of service users mirrored that of frontline staff.

Ms Thwaites told board members of the frustration from patients as she outlined the organisation’s annual report.

The body – which assesses how health and social care services are used across the country on a regional basis – delivered its findings on the last 12 months in Liverpool, marking a decade of activity in the city. One of the main areas identified, Ms Thwaites said, was the ongoing difficulty in locating an NHS dentist.

She said, “There’s no doubt there was a dental crisis before covid, it’s so much worse now. We’re going to have a generation of young people who won’t have seen a dentist.

“We’ve got to get better at looking after the city’s teeth. It’s one of the major pressures.”

Reflecting on the overall difficulties in the wider NHS, Ms Thwaites said: “Everybody’s just that little bit closer to crisis.

“People have been living in pain for years. I know staff are burned out but so are the patients and public.”

Prof Matt Ashton, director of public health for Liverpool, said service providers and stakeholders like the city council should continue to work together with Healthwatch to improve outcomes for patients. He said, “It’s so important we listen to the voices and experiences of our communities. 

“We need to develop an understanding of issues raised by Healthwatch.” Prof Ashton added how it was important people were able to access “the right care in the right place at the right time.”

Cllr Jane Corbett, deputy chair of the health and wellbeing board, said Liverpool was “under huge pressure” and “there doesn’t seem to be a way out.” She added: “It feels like it’s cracking, not in slow motion like it used to be.

“I’m really worried for the health and wellbeing in the city, especially for those already under massive pressure.”

Image: Karolina Grabowska

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