Significant number of Havering GP websites 'lack key information'

A person using a laptop

A Healthwatch Havering review of GP websites in the borough found a significant number "lack key information". - Credit: PA

A consumer group found a significant number of Havering GP websites "lack key information" during a review.

Healthwatch Havering volunteers assessed the sites across a range of areas, with their findings published in a report.

It said that of the borough's 45 practices, 10 use NHS Choices rather than having their own website.

The group found that seven sites failed to give any advice on Covid-19, with only two providing any information for cancer patients about their care during the pandemic.

Healthwatch Havering said in the report that it was surprised to find that 40 per cent of sites offered no general information on health and wellbeing as  "the repeated periods of lockdown in 2020 gave rise to considerable concern for some individuals’ mental wellbeing".

Volunteers also established that only three practices made provision for people who have lost their sight to use their websites and only two websites accommodated people with learning disabilities.

The report said: "In a world that is becoming increasingly reliant upon the interconnectivity that the internet offers, it is disappointing to record that many GP practices are not yet taking full advantage of the power of that technology to bring information to their patients and that a significant number of GP practice websites lack key information."

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Healthwatch Havering noted that while some surgeries are doing "an excellent job", others are doing "the bare minimum" when it comes to their websites.

The report was discussed at a meeting of Havering Council's health overview and scrutiny sub-committee on Tuesday.

At the meeting, Healthwatch Havering's Ian Buckmaster said: "What we found surprised us and was to some extent concerning.

"A few of the websites are excellent - can't fault them. There are too many that could not possibly be described as excellent."

The group made a string of recommendations, including calls for Havering Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to work with all of the borough's practices to review their websites and to make sure they contain "as much useful information for patients as possible".

Havering CCG declined to comment when contacted by the Recorder.

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