Craftivism and Chat at Home - 28th May 2020

At Craftivism and Chat this month we were joined by Healthwatch Merton and South West London CCG. We discussed what was working well and not so well with GP and health services in Merton. Our senior caseworker Karly also held a workshop on how to confidentially attend an ESA/PIP telephone health assessment throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

Healthwatch Merton & South West London CCG - Let's discuss GP and Health Services in Merton 

Generally, Disabled people felt that GP and health services in Merton were functioning well throughout the coronavirus pandemic. There were concerns around access and communication needs that will be looked into. You can read more about what people fed back below:


Getting an Appointment and Appointment Format 

Facetime and telephone appointments have proven to be more accessible than face to face appointments for some Disabled people. Some Disabled people prefer to have telephone or video appointments with GPs that they know. However, they are not always appropriate for people with communication needs.

Further adaptions are needed to ensure services meet the needs of individuals with communication needs.

There needs to be a back up in place in case you cannot access virtual appointments.

GPs tend to call from a withheld number and this can be ignored.

It is great that double appointments have been offered for individuals with communication needs.

If you can't get an appointment, you are asked to go online 111 - this is hard for elderly people/people with communication issues.

Some patients need support to attend appointment and this needs to be considered.


Improved waiting times

You hear back about appointments and get call backs from GPs faster than before.

Call system has improved, less waiting time.

If you go into the surgery, you are seen straight away with no delay.



Ordering and delivery is much more streamlined. 

Able to collect prescriptions quicker than before.


GP Apps and Innovations

Not very accessible for people with communications needs, no smart phone or limited Internet access.

Apps have too much text and are difficult to understand.

Not clear which GPs are actually using the apps and how they are used.


Other points

There was concern about the change in the shielded list and the lack of communication with patients. 

GPs have seemed less stressed and have been helpful.


Hospitals and Health Services 

Seen quickly at A&E 

Appointments have been cancelled and no clarity around when they will be rescheduled

Letters are being received, informing of cancelled appointments, and follow-up calls are not prearranged, which is unsuitable for Disabled people who need support with calls.


Barriers for Disabled people to access health care throughout coronavirus pandemic

Virtual and telephone appointments pose new barriers 

Work needs to be done as to not exclude patients who cannot access digital and telephone services

Communication needs need to be considered

GPs need to consistently record patient accessibility requirements, so communication is appropriate. Some GPs do and some do not. If recorded, at what point is this flagged.

As services adapt they need to continue to ensure that they meet the needs of Disabled people


We hope that our feedback will inform NHS Merton and Wandsworth Barriers to Accessing Healthcare work 


Our Senior Caseworker Karly also delivered a session on how to handle a PIP/ESA telephone health assessment throughout the coronavirus pandemic with confidence. You can see her top tips below: