Healthwatch is the new consumer champion, for both health and social care for children and adults living in England.
As part of the Health and Social Care Bill, the Government announced its intention to implement a network of organisations called local HealthWatch from April 2013. HealthWatch has now replaced the existing Local Improvement Networks (or LINks as they were known).
Healthwatch England makes sure that the overall views and experiences of people who use health and social care services are heard and taken seriously at a local and national level. Healthwatch England leads and supports the Healthwatch network, made up of 152 community-focused local Healthwatch.
For Dudley the local Healthwatch is Healthwatch Dudley
As initially set out by the Government’s White Paper the official role of Healthwatch is to:
Be the independent customer champion for the public, locally to promote better outcomes in health for all and in social care for adults.
Provide intelligence to influence policy, planning, commissioning and delivery of health and social care services.
Provide information and advice to help people access and make choices about services.
Help people access independent complaints advocacy to support people if they need help to complain about NHS services.
Have credibility and public trust through being responsive and acting on concerns when things go wrong and operating effectively and efficiently.
Be statutory organisations (i.e. established by law).
The functions Healthwatch Dudley will fulfil are:
Influencing – to obtain and present the views and experiences of local people and make those views known to those involved in the commissioning, provision and scrutiny of health and care services as well as to Healthwatch England at the national level.
Be part of the local health and wellbeing board and other key influencing forums.
To challenge poor practice and support high quality health and social care services.
That local HealthWatch is able to operate independently and represent the voice of local people in the strengthened system of strategic needs assessment and commissioning decision-making.
In collaboration with other agencies, undertake specific projects that will contribute to a better understanding of local needs and experiences.
Signposting – provide information to local people to enable effective access to health and social care services and promoting choice.
Signposting of health services is currently provided by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), as part of their Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) responsibilities.
The local Healthwatch will either provide or signpost the public to NHS complaints advocacy to support people with complaints.
Advising – consideration of providing complaints advocacy.
The Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS) service from 1st April 2013 will be the responsibility of local authorities to fund. Council’s will be required to contract out for this area of work; LHW can bid to deliver the service.
Produce reports and make recommendations about how services could be improved.
Through ‘Enter and View’ visits advise and inform as to how services can better place people at the centre of everything they do.
Alerting Healthwatch England to concerns about health and social care providers.
Engaging – The Boroughs’ local Healthwatch will be truly representative of our local community, residents, patients and users of local services. It will embrace, harness, promote and support existing activity in order to maximise patient, public and service user involvement in the review and development of services and keen to explore opportunities to become involved in broader engagement activity.
To get in touch with Healthwatch Dudley please use the details below -
03000 111 001