The Health and Social Care Act introduces a new independent consumer champion for health and social care, Healthwatch.
See the local developments section for the latest Healthwatch progress in North Yorkshire.
Healthwatch operates at two levels to ensure that the consumer voice has influence not only locally but nationally too:
- Healthwatch England - a committee within the Care Quality Commission which supports and leads Local Healthwatch;
- Local Healthwatch - replaces Local Involvement Networks (LINks) and provides a single point of contact for people to report their experiences, concerns or their compliments about health and social care.
Local councils have the responsibility to make sure their area has a Local Healthwatch organisation.
Local Healthwatch has three main roles:
1. Influencing - presenting the views and experiences of local service users to local managers and decision makers (as well as to Healthwatch England at the national level) and be part of the decision making process on the local health and wellbeing board. It will also hold local providers to account by reporting on services and making recommendations.
2. Signposting - providing information to people to help them access health and social care services and make decisions about their care.
3. NHS complaints advocacy - providing advocacy for individuals making complaints about healthcare.
The diagram below shows the role of Local Healthwatch.
Engagement with Local Involvement Networks (LINks)
During October and November 2011 the County Council engaged with existing LINk members and the wider community and voluntary sector over what effective and valuable local Healthwatch arrangements would look like across the County.
A number of themes have arose from the workshops that were held:
- Good governance;
- Healthwatch needs to operate at a county and a local level - a hub and spoke model was favoured;
- Healthwatch will need to build up relationships with the emerging GP clinical commissioning groups;
- The need to build on the existing network of organisations and engagement activities taking place within the County;
- Access to Local Healthwatch should be via one phone number and website. For those without access to the website, access to information should be over the phone with the worker or volunteer providing the information using the website as a source;
- A variety of engagement methodologies should be used (meetings plus all types of media) to ensure inclusively. This should also include going out to the community (e.g. schools, places of work) to seek views and ideas; and
- There should be a clarity of role and purpose from the outset.
In addition, we have surveyed our Citizens' Panel members on their views on getting involved with Local Healthwatch. You can see the results from the survey in the Citizens' Panel - winter 2011 report (Healthwatch section) [310kb] [pdf] document.
To support the development phase for Healthwatch, up to April 2013, a reference group was set up. This group was made up of representatives from the main partnership boards that already exist across the County.
The reference group provided a representative to attend the shadow health and wellbeing board meetings during the Healthwatch development phase.
The Local Healthwatch North Yorkshire - transitional arrangements [133kb] [pdf] document explains more about the role of the reference group.
In January 2013 after a comprehensive evaluation process the contracts were awarded to the following organisations:
- Lot 1: Healthwatch North Yorkshire - North Bank Forum.
- Lot 2: NHS Complaints Advocacy - Cloverleaf Advocacy 2000 Ltd.
You can read more in the Healthwatch and NHS Complaints Advocacy - contracts awarded [69kb] [pdf] letter. You can also read a letter from North Bank Forum [78kb] [pdf] commenting on their award of the Healthwatch North Yorkshire contract.
North Yorkshire NHS Complaints Advocacy Service
Telephone: 0300 012 4212
Visit the website: www.helpwithnhscomplaintsnorthyorks.org