What is Healthwatch?

Local Healthwatch is all about helping people influence change in their own local health and social care services.  It will be the local consumer champion for health and social services and will promote the local community voice in the services that are provided.

It will focus on:

  1. Choice 
  2. Challenge
  3. and Voice

                  ........within health and social care in the local community.

This all came about as part of the health and social care act,  in which the role of Local Involvement Networks (LINks) across the country is being abolished and a new organisation known as Local Healthwatch will take over the role of the LINk and incorporate a number of new functions.  

This is one part of a reorganisation of the NHS that will drastically change the health and social care landscape giving more responsibilities to local authorities for its provision and commissioning and give a stronger voice to local communities and service users in the way the health service is run.

These changes include the creation of Clinical Commissioning Groups, greatly strengthening Health and Wellbeing Boards and the creation of Healthwatch England. For further details on the specific functions of these new groups please refer to the health and social care bill.

All of these changes are designed to give greater powers to consumers and key stakeholders of health and social care at the local level. This is done by implementing new forms of competition into the sector and allowing the commissioning of services to be undertaken locally such as by clinical commissioning groups, in which Local Healthwatch will play a key role. The act aims to give greater powers to the patient and public voice and experiences in the delivery of these services.
Local Healthwatch will build on the role of the Local Involvement Network (LINk) to be the consumer champion within the local health and social care sector. It will promote the views and feedback of patients and carers at every level of service commissioning. 
It will also be the access point for NHS complaints advocacy and provide information and help to local people who need help or have a question about local services.

The service will start in April 2013.