A report published today by Healthwatch Norfolk, exploring working relationships between local health services, reveals incompatible IT systems as the single greatest barrier to joined up working in our region.

The report marks the end of a year-long project focused on developing a better understanding of healthcare professionals’ interactions with General Practice and secondary care providers across Norfolk, following an earlier study centred around the patient experience.

A resounding message from the professionals’ Healthwatch spoke to was that IT systems inability to talk to each other is causing additional problems for both patients and professionals alike.

Healthwatch’s recommendations are therefore calling for greater leadership from the sector to coordinate information systems across all health and social care services in Norfolk.

Detailed experiences were captured from professionals working within six of the region’s main health services; the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, James Paget University Hospital, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, Norfolk Community Health and Care and East Coast Community Healthcare.

The findings gave a mixed picture of working relationships across providers, with some good examples of working relationships with General Practice, but also some clear frustrations between primary and secondary care.

Professionals from mental health services described the need to work more closely with General Practice to enable GP’s to better navigate mental health services.

The report also highlights that local services could be improved by more joint working across the health and social care system as communication can be challenging.

Healthwatch Norfolk would like to take this opportunity to publically thank all the professionals who participated in this project for their contribution and time.

Speaking about the report, Alex Stewart, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Norfolk said:

“This report highlights some of the fantastic work carried out by our local health and care professionals in increasingly challenging circumstances. The report also identifies some opportunities for better partnership working, especially when it comes to improving communication across different IT systems. Healthwatch Norfolk will continue to work with local professionals to ensure that health and care services are more joined up across Norfolk, especially for those patients and families who need them the most.”

You can read the full report at www.healthwatchnorfolk.co.uk/reports

Members of the public can provide feedback to Healthwatch on any local health and social care service at any time by visiting www.healthwatchnorfolk.co.uk 

This includes pharmacies, GPs and NHS dentists, as well as all hospital, mental health, community health and social care services.