Healthwatch is the national consumer champion for both health and social care. They have considerable statutory powers to make sure that patients’ voices are heard.
There are two strands of Healthwatch:
Healthwatch England is a national body that represents the views of the public to make sure that the voices of the people who use health and social care services are heard by the Secretary of State, the Care Quality Commission, the NHS Commissioning Board, Monitor and every local authority in England.
Their sole purpose is to understand the needs, experiences and concerns of people who use health and social care services and to speak out on their behalf.
They actively seek views from all sections of the community via Local Healthwatch by conducting research in local areas and identifying gaps in services. This information is then fed into local health commissioning plans.
For more information go to: http://www.healthwatch.co.uk/
There is a Local Healthwatch in every local authority area in England. Each Local Heathwatch is a social enterprise (organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being). They are independent organisations able to employ their own staff and volunteers.
Every Local Healthwatch:
- has powers such as establishing relationships with local authorities, CCGs, patient representative groups, the local voluntary and community sector and service providers to ensure it is inclusive and truly representative of your local community
- gives people and communities a stronger voice to influence and challenge how health and social care services are provided within their area
- enables people’s views and concerns about their local health and social care services to be shared and understand that their contribution will help build a picture of where services are doing well and where they can be improved.
- has a seat on the Health and Wellbeing Boards, ensuring that the views and experiences of patients, carers and other service users are taken into account when local needs assessments and strategies are prepared, such as the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) and the authorisation of Clinical Commissioning Groups. Healthwatch has a role in promoting public health, health improvements and in tackling health inequalities
- is funded by local authorities and held to account by them for their ability to operate effectively and be value for money.
- provides or signposts people to information about local health and care services and how to access them. They also provide people with information about their choices and what to do when things go wrong. This includes either signposting people to the relevant provider or providing (if commissioned by the local authority) support to individuals who want to complain about NHS services.
- has the power to enter and view services being provided and be able to alert Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission to any concerns about specific care providers.
- will provide authoritative, evidence-based feedback to organisations responsible for commissioning or delivering local health and social care services.
The Local Healthwatch websites have information on events, consultations etc and have a newsletter so that you can keep up to date on what is happening in your local area. You can also give feedback or review any services you have used in your area.
To find your Local Healthwatch go to: http://www.healthwatch.co.uk/find-local-healthwatch
Last updated: 16/05/17