In his regular column for the Hereford Times, chair of Healthwatch Herefordshire Ian stead explains how the organisations aims to learn from the coronavirus pandemic.

Healthwatch Herefordshire provides an independent voice for people who use publicly funded health and social care services. Our role is to ensure that people’s views are listened to and fed back to service providers and commissioners in order to improve services.

Health and care services have had to make rapid and unprecedented changes to services in response to the coronavirus pandemic and Healthwatch is eager to find out how information is reaching them and to determine the impact that service changes have had. We have developed a coronavirus survey which can be found on our website: If you require a paper copy of the survey, please email us at with your name and address. We will ensure that one is sent out to you.

The survey asks how easily you have found accessing information, whether the information has been easy to understand and whether you have been involved with the Talk Community response team.

We also ask how you have managed your mental health in these difficult times. One aspect we are particularly interested in is whether the changes to the way you have received information or accessed services has been particularly positive.

This provides us with a real opportunity to establish whether some of these new ways of communicating would be advantageous to adopt on a permanent basis. For some, online consultations with doctors or group therapy sessions via Zoom have been of huge benefit.

Whilst the number of ways in which we have communicated online has grown, it is important to understand how those relying on other forms of communication have felt with regards to being kept in the loop.

The survey therefore addresses the effectiveness of other modes of communication such as letter or text. As the voice of local people, it has always been important to us that we reach those who don’t necessarily communicate online.

In addition to sharing information, we depend on feedback from the public in order to help shape health and social services in the county.

Therefore, it is essential that we reach as many people as possible, from all walks of life. We are starting to work more closely with village newsletters and community publications in order to become more accessible.

If you know of any publications that would benefit from our input, please get in touch by emailing:

Every voice counts.