A different lens…
Every year we work on a number of reports which focus on different areas of the public sector. As part of our analysis of those services, getting feedback from service users is really important. It is vital to know what service users experiences are, whether it is good or bad. The most common way we do this is through using surveys which ask a few short questions about a specific service area. The information we collect from these surveys, provide us with valuable insight, which would not come out from speaking to people that run those services, or from just looking at data.
In the past few years, we have some great examples of where the information we have collected from surveys has helped shape our work. As part of our report on NHS Waiting Times which was published In 2014, we heard about the experiences of over 400 people who had been on NHS elective surgery waiting lists for cataract surgery; surgery to remove the gall bladder; and catheterisation of the heart. Although most of the people we surveyed were being treated within 26 weeks and most were happy to wait, we also found that a minority of the people we surveyed felt they were waiting too long and some were deteriorating and coming to harm while on a waiting list. These findings were important to us as they highlighted the real life impact of waiting for surgery.
As part of our study on council leisure services, we surveyed people who use council leisure facilities to find out what their experiences of the quality, cost and availability of leisure services was in their area. It would be impossible for us as auditors to visit every local leisure centre, and so the views of people on their local leisure centres gave us invaluable insights. 63% of our survey respondents felt that council leisure services are good value for money, however, 52% of our respondents stated that they are paying more to use the service than the previous year. Only 37% of our survey respondents agreed that the quality of the leisure service had improved since January 2014. These responses highlighted the increasing challenges for council leisure services, about how they communicate service changes and the ‘financial’ value of the services they provide to their users.
We are now starting on a report which is looking at how effective Welsh public bodies are at delivering and maintaining services to rural communities. The report will focus on how councils and other public bodies provide services to people that live in rural communities. Councils provide a wide range of services in rural communities including education, social services, public transport, libraries to leisure services. Increasingly councils are working with other public bodies such as health services, fire and rescue and police to provide services to communities.
If you live outside of a city and access council services we need to know what you think about living in a rural community and about the services your council and other public organisations provide.
We have developed a short online survey which you can fill in [opens in new window] to give us your feedback, or members of WAO staff will be going to the following shows in the coming month, please go and have a chat with a member of the team about your views.
You will find us at the:
- Vale of Glamorgan Show – Wednesday 9 August
- Anglesey show – Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 August
About the author
Gareth Jones is a Performance Auditor working in the local Government national studies team. Gareth started his professional career as a primary school teacher and has since worked for the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and the National Foundation for Educational Research. Outside of work Gareth can be found on his bike or playing golf.