Little Liam (pictured above) has asthma and needs regular check-ups – sometimes at short notice. His mum, Laura, describes the time-consuming process she has to go through to get him the medical attention he needs:
“It’s 8am, the doctors’ surgery has just opened and it’s a race to get an appointment for later that day. 10, 20, 30 calls later and you’re still getting that engaged tone… The next hurdle is tackling the receptionist’s questioning as she decides whether or not she deems it necessary for your child to actually see the doctor. The final hurdle, sitting it out in the waiting room because the doctor is running behind schedule.”
Laura is just one of the Asda mums on our Mumdex panel of 11,000 mums. Last month we asked for their opinions on public services and found healthcare is top of their list of concerns. Our latest Mumdex report shows that while mums think frontline medical staff are doing a fantastic job, they believe the healthcare system is “inflexible” making it difficult to fit appointments around family and work commitments.
The report should make interesting reading for the politicans who will be debating these issues at their political party conferences later this month. Some of our Mumdex mums will be at the conferences, taking part in “round-table” discussions with MPs from each of the political parties. Mums make up a quarter of the voting public – so politicians will be listening carefully to what our Asda mums have to say ahead of next year’s General Election!
We’ve asked Laura – and other mums from our panel – to blog about their opinions on key issues in the run-up to the election. You can read the rest of Laura’s blog post here – and more from the other mums here.
The survey showed it’s usually mum who makes the healthcare appointments for the family – and takes time off work to make sure everyone gets there!
Of the 11,000 mums on our Mumdex panel, 81% say they’re responsible for taking their kids to healthcare appointments and half say they also take their parents and/or partner’s parents for regular appointments. To help ease the pressure on mums, they would like to see:
- Same-day GP appointments (67%)
- Family appointments at the GP so that they can take three generations in one go (64%)
- To be able to book their appointments online (62%)
- GP appointments outside working hours (60%)
And almost half of mums want NHS health checks in more convenient locations like supermarkets and train stations.
Almost half of mums surveyed admitted to putting off healthcare appointments altogether because of difficulties in getting a convenient appointment. Mums under 30 also feel technology could play a bigger role in booking appointments – more than three quarters (81%) said they would like to be able to book appointments via their smartphone and two-thirds would like to see real-time waiting time information at A&E departments.
Storm is another of our Mumdex bloggers who feels passionately about healthcare. She believes GPs should “move into the 21st century” and says she has to make frequent trips to the doctor’s for both herself and her relatives. She says long waiting times at the surgery can sometimes get her into trouble with her employer for taking too much time off. Read her blog here
As many families now have two working parents, the report has revealed mums are making sacrifices in order to care for almost three generations of family members:
- A fifth have had to go part time or give up working completely
- A quarter have had to request flexible working from their employer
- Almost half have had to put off dealing with healthcare issues altogether
- 1 in 8 have had to take lower-paid or less-fulfilling jobs
Hayley Tatum, our Senior Vice President for People, said: “Last quarter only 2% of mums told us they felt represented by the political system – an issue that we debated at the Houses of Parliament with MPs and mums back in May. What our latest report suggests is that nowhere is this lack of representation more apparent than in the healthcare service. 81% of mums say they are responsible for taking their kids for check ups, and as a result, working mums miss three days of work a year on inflexible appointments. They would understandably like the system to catch-up with their busy lives.”
These are the top healthcare policies that mums want politicians to focus on:
- Better care for the elderly (69%)
- Waiting times to be reduced (67%))
- More weekend cover for GPs (63%)
- Help for dementia sufferers (62%)
- Better care for the mentally ill (59%)
Our report also uncovers regional inconsistencies in the healthcare sector. For example, over half (51%) of mums in Scotland said it was easy to get an appointment with the dentist, compared to only a quarter (26%) in Wales. And while 68% of mums in Scotland rated healthcare in their area as very/quite good, levels of satisfaction fell to 56% in Northern Ireland.
In addition to highlighting mums’ views of the healthcare sector, the report also looks at their experiences of public services in general, including education, transport and policing. While the report shows that mums overall do appreciate the public services they use, almost half of mums (45%) have noticed a decline in these services due to budget cuts – a figure that rises to 53% in the North of England and 54% in Wales, but falls to 39% in Scotland and 33% in Northern Ireland where the decline in the quality of these services is less noticeable.
You can read the full report