What is Healthwatch?
Healthwatch is the name of the independent ‘consumer champion for health and social care’ launched by the Government in April 2013. There are 152 local Healthwatch across England, set up in each local authority area, including Staffordshire. Healthwatch England is the umbrella organisation for local Healthwatch. In Staffordshire, your local Healthwatch is Healthwatch Staffordshire.
What will Healthwatch Staffordshire do?
Healthwatch Staffordshire has three main roles: to inform the public, to influence improvements to services and to provide advocacy services. We do this by:
- Helping people find health, social care, voluntary or community services
- Informing people of their rights to care, assessments, or support
- Taking feedback from people about their experience of services – both good and bad
- Helping individuals informally resolve issues with services
- Challenging those who run or fund services to make improvements
- Acting as advocates for people who want to lodge formal complaints against the NHS
- Watching services in action through ‘Enter and View’ visits
- Supporting people to have a greater say through local patient and service user groups
- Working in partnership with providers of care to co-design improvements
- Escalating serious concerns to Healthwatch England or official inspectors of services.
Does Healthwatch Staffordshire have any powers?
Yes. We can:
- Carry out ‘Enter and View’ visits of health and social care premises – such as GP waiting rooms, communal areas of care homes, or hospital A&E or outpatient departments – to collect public views and observe services in action. This power is set down in The Local Authorities (Public Health Functions and entry to Premises by Local Healthwatch Representatives) Regulations 2013. The power excludes entry to social care services for under 18s.
- Require organisations to respond to information requests, under Section 224 of The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007
- Ask organisations to respond to information requests under the Freedom of Information Act
Is Healthwatch part of the NHS?
No. Healthwatch is an independent body, separate from the NHS and Local Authority. Healthwatch is keen to maintain their independence so that we can fully represent the voice of the local people.
Can you challenge independent/private sector services?
Our remit covers any provider of health and social care that is in receipt of public funding.
How do I get involved with Healthwatch Staffordshire?
We are recruiting volunteers for a wide range of roles. We know your time is precious. You can give as much or as little of your time as you want, but any time you can give will make a difference. You could simply take 5 minutes to share your views and encourage those around you to do the same.
What happened to Local Involvement Networks (LINks)?
Local Involvement Networks (LINks) ceased to exist after the 31st March 2013. Their work and legacy is being carried forward as part of the remit of local Healthwatch.
Local Healthwatch are being described as consumer champions. What impact do you think local Healthwatch will have on local services?
Local people’s voices will go directly into shaping health and social care services in their area. Those services will meet local needs in a much better way, ensuring people are able to get the best out of them. The more people get involved, the more impact the local Healthwatch will have.
How can we feel secure that information we provide is kept confidential?
We have a strict policy regarding all information given to Healthwatch is treated as confidential. This includes both electronic information and all written correspondence and we in fact registered under Data Protection. At no point do we sell or share any personal information with anyone unless specifically instructed to do so by the person.