Page last updated at 17:17 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

Most 'can't have say on services'

GP writing a prescription (Photo: Science Photo Library)
Nine out of 10 patients said their GP surgery treated them with dignity

The majority of people in Wales feel unable to get involved in decisions on the running of council and health services, a survey has indicated.

But most respondents said they did not want such involvement, with the survey suggesting high satisfaction levels across a range of public services.

More than 90% were positive about their experience of GP surgeries and 87% were satisfied with NHS hospital services.

Ministers said services were improving but change needed to be "ongoing".

Just under 3,900 adults were questioned about GP services, as part of the assembly government's 'Living in Wales' survey 2008.

More than nine out of 10 responded positively when asked if:

• they were involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions

• they were treated with dignity and respect

• staff were helpful

• they were satisfied with the service they received during their appointment

Of about 7,700 people asked about hospital services, more than four out of five gave positive replies when asked if they had been treated "with dignity and respect," whether staff were helpful and whether they had been involved as much as they wanted in decisions about their care and treatment.

It is more important than ever that public bodies can engage with their citizens and open up a dialogue about the services that people really need
Jennie Bibbings, Consumer Focus Wales

Around 4,000 people were also quizzed about bus services, recycling facilities and sport and leisure facilities.

Some 81% of bus passengers were satisfied with their local services overall, with 82% who used their local sport and leisure facilities fairly or very satisfied, and 83% thought recycling services were satisfactory.

However, responses from around 7,700 people in Wales questioned about their involvement in decisions concerning their local council and health services make less happy reading for ministers.

Out of the 98% of people who said they were not involved in making decisions about the running of local authority services, just 17% agreed with the statement: "I have an opportunity to participate in making decisions about the running of my local authority services".

That figure was down from 23% in 2006.

However, only 15% said they wanted to be involved in such decisions, with 83% saying they did not wish to.

Only 34% believed they were kept informed about the performance of local council services, dropping from 41% two years earlier.

There were similar results with regard to local health services, with 80% saying they did not want to be involved in decisions and 17% agreeing that "I have an opportunity to participate in making decisions about the running of my local health services".

Jennie Bibbings from Consumer Focus Wales said there was "clearly a large untapped potential out there and we would like to see local authorities capitalising on the enthusiasm for participation that does exist among some citizens".

"Particularly as we enter a period of scarce public finances, it is more important than ever that public bodies can engage with their citizens and open up a dialogue about the services that people really need, and how to deliver those services in a way that works for people."

'Collaboration'

Launching the findings, Finance and Public Service Delivery Minister Andrew Davies described the survey as sign of the assembly government's "commitment to openness".

"Research such as this allows us to explore people's attitudes and opinions," he said.

"However, despite the high levels of overall satisfaction, there are still some aspects which could be improved.

"It is now three years since we issued our response to the Beecham report into improving public services in Wales, and in that time we have seen real progress towards greater collaboration to deliver better services.

"However, this change needs to be ongoing and there is still more to be done," Mr Davies added.

Altogether more than 7,500 households across Wales were surveyed about their experience of public services.

The research was conducted face to face by Ipsos-MORI for the Welsh Assembly Government between January and May 2008.



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