26 July 2012
Anna Bradley named as first Healthwatch England Chair and the new Healthwatch website is now live at www.healthwatch.co.uk.
New Voluntary Sector Partnership wins Healthwatch Isle of Wight Contract
On the Isle of Wight, following a competitive and robust tendering process, the Isle of Wight Council awarded the contract for Healthwatch Isle of Wight to the charity Help & Care – the current LINk hosts - in a winning consortium arrangement with the Isle of Wight Citizens Advice Bureau and Community Action Isle of Wight. One of the criteria for the new Local Healthwatch organisations is that they have ‘a high street presence’ making it even easier for people to use the service.
A consortium of Help & Care, Isle of Wight CAB and CAIW partners is now working to establish Healthwatch Isle of Wight as a new social enterprise organisation so that it will be ready to launch the new service from April.
Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Mark Sharman, Chief Executive of Help and Care said “I’m delighted that we’ve been selected by the Isle of Wight Council to deliver Healthwatch in this area. Our model for Healthwatch is based on having a strong network – of individual people and voluntary, statutory and private organisations who share an interest in the health and wellbeing of Islanders and a passion for bring about positive change.”
He continued “A key element of Healthwatch will be our ‘Healthwatch Champions’, an army of volunteers who want to make a difference to how local health and social care services are designed and run”.
Michael Bulpitt, Chief Executive of Community Action Isle of Wight, stated“We are delighted that our new consortium has won the Healthwatch Isle of Wight contract and we look forward to working together, giving Islanders a real voice on Health and Social Care.”
Gay Beal,Chief Executive of the Isle of Wight Citizens Advice Bureau confirmed “We are really pleased that our new consortium has won the chance to help the Isle of Wight public with their Health and Social Care queries and look forward to giving Islanders professional, local and independent information and advice.”
Healthwatch Isle of Wight will replace the Isle of Wight LINk on 1 April 2013; the consortium will be working closely with the LINk in this transition period.
Chris Orchin, Chair of the Isle of Wight LINk commented “LINk welcomes the decision to award the Healthwatch contract to the consortium. The knowledge and experience Help and Care as Hosts to the LINk organisation will be a valuable foundation in development of Healthwatch. Community Action Isle of Wight and the Isle of Wight Citizens Advice Bureau will add new dimensions in terms of community and individual involvement and the provision of advice to Islanders.”
Volunteers will be vital to the successful working of Healthwatch Isle of Wight so if you are interested to find out more, please contact the Isle of Wight LINk at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01983 539383.
First Chair of Healthwatch England Announced
Anna Bradley, a long-standing consumer advocate, will also be appointed as a member of the board of the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Anna said: "I am very excited about this opportunity to represent and amplify the voices of people who use the health and care system. I am clear that those who run, commission, and regulate services need to learn from the people who use those services.
"Healthwatch England will act as a champion for those who sometimes struggle to be heard. I am privileged to be determining the future
shape of the organisation - and determined that it will make a genuine difference where it matters most. My immediate focus will be to identify
strategic priorities for action, and then to ensure that these inform real change to the future of service delivery."
Find out more about Anna's background.
Healthwatch England Consultation Responses
27th June 2012
The Department of Health publishes its official response to the public consultation on the membership regulations for HealthwatchEngland that took place earlier this year.
The consultation looked at areas such as the
- number of members
- suitability of membership
- the process for appointing
- period of time for appointment
This response has informed the statutory instrument (regulations) being laid today in Parliament, with the explanatory memorandum.
Read the Healthwatch England Regulations: Response to Consultation (PDF, 176K)
Read the Easy read version of Response to Consultation (PDF, 404K)
Healthwatch will be the new consumer champion for both health and social care. It will exist in two distinct forms – local Healthwatch, at local level, and Healthwatch England, at national level.
Healthwatch England will be a national body that enables the collective views of the people who use NHS and social care services to influence national policy, advice and guidance. It provide leadership, guidance and support to local Healthwatch organisations.
Community Asked to Help Shape New Health Watchdog Organisation
18th June 2012
The Isle of Wight Council issued the following Press Release...
The Isle of Wight Council has launched a consultation to help shape a new organisation called Healthwatch which will represent the views of local people in relation to health and social care services on the Island.
Healthwatch Isle of Wight will be run as a social enterprise and be independent of the council and the NHS, it will be required to put any money that it makes directly back into the organisation for the benefit of the community.
The organisation will replace the services provided by the Local Involvement Network (LINk) when it is established next April.
Healthwatch Isle of Wight will be the voice of local people and share the community's views with both local and national organisations that plan and deliver health and social care services.
It will also provide information and advice to enable people to access and understand the choice of care available on the Island and provide or direct people to specific support if they need help to make complaints about NHS services.
Ian Anderson, Strategic Director for Community Wellbeing and Social Care, said: "The creation of Healthwatch Isle of Wight presents residents of all ages with an important opportunity to help influence health and social care services on the Island by telling us what is important to them. Even if you are not using services now, it's possible that you or members of your family will do so at some point in the future so I would encourage everyone to take this opportunity to share their views with us. We can then use this information to make sure the organisation we commission meets the needs of the Island community."
To help people share their views, a questionnaire has been developed. This can be completed online via the council's website www.iwight.com/council/consultation/activeco.asp or on paper versions available from council help centres, libraries, children's centres and GP surgeries. The consultation will run for a four week period until 16 July 2012.
2nd March 2012
: Update by The Department of Health
Organisational Form of Local Healthwatch Organisations
There was a broad discussion of the government’s intention to clarify the Health and Social Care Bill in respect of the organisational form of local Healthwatch at the Advisory Group meeting on 22nd February.
On Thursday 1st March the government tabled amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill to make clear that local authorities, which will be under a statutory duty to commission effective and efficient local Healthwatch organisations, will have some flexibility and choice over the organisational form of local Healthwatch so they can determine the most appropriate way to meet the needs of their communities. You can see briefing related to the government amendments on the DH website at http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_132469
The key requirements are:
- Local Healthwatch organisations must be corporate bodies carrying out statutory functions
- They must be ‘not-for-profit’ organisations
- Local Healthwatch must be able to employ staff and (if they choose) be able to sub-contract statutory functions.
Local Healthwatch will need to be inclusive so that it operates for the benefit of all parts of its local community – and its governance should reflect and ensure this requirement. The Department of Health would expect Healthwatch England to issue guidance to local Healthwatch on best practice in a number of areas, including leadership and governance.
It was explained that government policy had always been to allow flexibility of organisational form, as was made clear in the Healthwatch Transition Plan published in March 2011. That plan also made clear the intention that volunteers and lay people would continue to drive local Healthwatch. Nor does the government intend to scrap the LINk model wholesale; rather it intends to use the model as the basis for local Healthwatch, building on its strengths and addressing its weaknesses.
It will be up to local authorities to decide what commissioning route to take. Their options include, for example, competitive tender, grant in aid funding and competitive grant funding. Some local authorities will opt for a competitive tender under EU procurement rules. There is no automatic requirement to use the EU tender process, but each case should be considered on the merits. It could reasonably be expected that the contract specification would include criteria that would heavily weight local involvement, knowledge of the health and social care system, an understanding of the JSNA process, a knowledge of the local community and a commitment to be the local consumer champion for the citizen voice. Local Healthwatch will also have a key role in supporting individuals by signposting to information and advocacy underlining the need for knowledge of the local community, local services and the increased choices available to people under the NHS reforms.
The government has also made clear that, while the final decision about what each local Healthwatch will look like is for the local authority, this decision should be made in consultation with the local community including the existing LINk: this underlines the principles of good commissioning based on active engagement to understand local need.
A short summary definition of corporate body is attached as an annex to this bulletin.
The DH has produced a document “Local Healthwatch: A stronger voice for people – the policy explained” which gives more details. Published on 2 March, the document is available at
The design phase of the communications toolkit is well progressed and the testing phase is also underway. So far the initial findings have been tested in small workshops (including with Advisory Group members) and a series of focus groups with diverse audiences. This work focused on the key messages for Healthwatch.
During the testing phase so far Spencer du Bois (the agency that is helping to produce the toolkit) have talked to community groups and the public and are now testing the messages with health and care professionals. Once those discussions have finished, the key messages will be agreed and the agency will prepare the communications toolkit.
In the autumn bigger events will be held to promote the Healthwatch “brand”.
The communications work also includes the development of a unique visual identity – or logo - for Healthwatch at both national and local levels. We would urge local authorities, LINks, local Healthwatch pathfinders and others not to develop visual identities of their own for future local Healthwatch organisations. The logo and the communications toolkit will be made available to local Healthwatch free of charge.
How to get involved in developing HealthWatch
To support the set up Healthwatch the Department of Health has a programme board and an advisory group. New members have recently been recruited to the programme board, to strengthen the input from local government and from the voluntary and community sector. To read more about these groups and to read the minutes of the meetings please visit the CQC website.
To ensure people can feed in their views on the development of HealthWatch an online community has been set up for anyone who is interested to feed in their views. If you would like to join the community please email email@example.com.
If you would like to find out more about the NHS modernisation programme, please visit the DH website at: http://healthandcare.dh.gov.uk.
You can also find discussion on setting up Healthwatch on the National Learning Network for Health and Wellbeing Boards, which is on the Local Government Association’s Communities of Practice site: www.communities.idea.gov.uk.
If you have queries on this bulletin, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Corporate Body” – A Definition
A corporate body can be described as a group of people acting together which has a separate legal identity from the individual members’ identity.
The significance of being a corporate body is that the body has legal personality separate from its members, and is therefore able to contract, employ staff, acquire rights and incur liabilities in its own right. Otherwise, the body would be unincorporated and it would be its members who would enter contracts, incur liabilities etc. Unincorporated associations do not have legal personality, may not sue or be sued in their own name nor (unless their purposes are charitable) may property be held for their purposes otherwise than by virtue of a contract between the members for the time being.
Put another way, a corporate body is a body of persons that has been incorporated (i.e. has its own legal personality) – this may be incorporation under the Companies Act (in the case of a company), under a Royal Charter, or, as in the case of statutory bodies, under a specific Act of Parliament.
Many corporate bodies are expressly established by individual statutes – these are collectively referred to as statutory bodies: that is, a body established by statute to carry out a specific purpose and whose duties and powers are both conferred (and limited) by that statute.
February 2012: The Department of Health published its consultation on the membership of Healthwatch England, which questions the key issues relating to the membership that the Department has heard from stakeholders. These issues are:
- The number of the members
- Suitability for membership
- The process for appointing members
- The period of time a member should be appointed
The Consultation on the Regulations for HealthWatch England Membership will help ensure that the public have a strong national presence to represent their views and help drive up improvements across the NHS.
The deadline for comments is Friday 2nd March 2012.
What is HealthWatch?
HealthWatch is due to become the new consumer champion for both health and adult social care. It will exist in two distinct forms – Local HealthWatch, at local level, and HealthWatch England, at national level.
What is it?
- Local HealthWatch is due to be established in April 2013. Until then Local Involvement Networks (LINks) will continue to operate as usual
- A Local HealthWatch will be an independent organisation, able to employ its own staff and volunteers, so it can become the influential and effective voice of the public. It will have to keep accounts and make its annual reports available to the public
- The aim of Local HealthWatch will be to give citizens and communities a stronger voice to influence and challenge how health and social care services are provided within their locality
- The duty to involve the public in the planning and development of health services, as set out in section 242 of the NHS Act, remains as before
What will it do?
- Local HealthWatch will have a seat on the new 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. This will ensure that Local HealthWatch has a role in promoting public health, health improvements and in tackling health inequalities
- Local HealthWatch will enable people to share their views and concerns about their local health and social care services and understand that their contribution will help build a picture of where services are doing well and where they can be improved
- Local HealthWatch will be able to alert HealthWatch England to concerns about specific care providers
- Local HealthWatch will provide people with information about what to do when things go wrong; this includes either signposting people to, or providing, advocacy for people who want to complain about NHS services
- Some signposting is currently provided by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), as part of their Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) responsibilities. Local HealthWatch will provide, or signpost people to, information about local health and care services and how to access them
- Local HealthWatch will provide authoritative, evidence-based feedback to organisations responsible for commissioning or delivering local health and social care services
- Local HealthWatch can help Clinical Commissioning Groups to make sure that services really are designed to meet citizens’ needs
- Local HealthWatch will have to be inclusive and reflect the diversity of the community it serves. There is an explicit requirement in the Health & Social Care Bill that Local HealthWatch membership must be representative of local people and different users of services including carers
Local HealthWatch and Local Involment Networks (LINks)
- Local HealthWatch will evolve from existing LINks but with additional functions and powers
- Local HealthWatch will build on the good practice of LINks, establishing relationships with local authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), patient representative groups, the local voluntary and community sector and service providers to ensure it is inclusive and truly representative of the community it serves
- In March 2011, the Department of Health (DH) published the HealthWatch Transition Plan, the first of a series of documents for local authorities and LINks. It can be found on the DH website
- Existing LINks will be supported to build their skills and maintain momentum through Action Learning Networks – which will identify and share best practice to help all LINks perform at the level of the best
Local HealthWatch pathfinders
- In August 2011, the Department of Health announced that 75 HealthWatch pathfinders have been selected to test different approaches to the proposed Local HealthWatch functions. These are partnerships of local authorities, LINks and other relevant organisations
- The Local HealthWatch pathfinders will explore how best to champion patients’ views and experiences, promote the integration of local services and improve choice for patients through advice and access to information
The role of local authorities
- Local HealthWatch will be funded by local authorities and held to account by them for their efficiency and effectiveness
- Local authorities are due to have to have a Local HealthWatch organisation from April 2013 but will be free to choose how they commission it to achieve best value for money for their communities
- It is expected that local authorities will work in partnership with their existing LINk, voluntary groups and community organisations when designing their approach to commissioning Local HealthWatch
- Local authorities will have to provide an advocacy service to people who wish to make a complaint about their experience of NHS care from April 2013. Local authorities will be able to commission the service from any provider including Local HealthWatch and may decide to provide it under the banner of Local HealthWatch
What is it?
- HealthWatch England is due to be launched in April 2013
- HealthWatch England will be a national body that enables the collective views of the people who use NHS and adult social care services to influence national policy, advice and guidance
- It will be a statutory committee of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) with a Chair who will be a non-executive director of the CQC
- HealthWatch England will have its own identity within the CQC, but be able to use the CQC’s expertise and infrastructure
- HealthWatch England will be funded as part of the Department of Health’s grant in aid to the CQC
What will it do?
- HealthWatch England will provide leadership, guidance and support to Local HealthWatch organisations
- HealthWatch England will provide advice to the Secretary of State, NHS Commissioning Board, Monitor and the English local authorities and they must have regard to that advice
- HealthWatch England will be able to escalate concerns about health and social care services raised by Local HealthWatch to the CQC
- There will be a requirement for the CQC to respond to advice from HealthWatch England
- HealthWatch England will have a strong principle of continuous dialogue with Local HealthWatch, keeping communication lines open and transparent. This will facilitate HealthWatch England’s responsibility to provide national leadership and support
- The Secretary of State for Health will be required to consult HealthWatch England on the mandate for the NHS Commissioning Board
- HealthWatch England will be required to make an annual report to Parliament
HealthWatch engagement and consultation
- There has been widespread engagement activity in support of the Government’s White Paper and subsequent Health and Social Care Bill. As HealthWatch is amongst the proposed changes, the consultation has included existing LINks, patient organisations and the wider voluntary sector. Additionally, there have been regional events throughout 2010/11 specifically to facilitate discussion about the plans for HealthWatch
- To inform the development of HealthWatch, the CQC and Department of Health (DH) have jointly established the HealthWatch programme board and its advisory group. The minutes from the meetings of both of these groups are available on the CQC website and LINks Exchange
- The HealthWatch programme board provides strategic oversight and ensures readiness for the launch of both Local HealthWatch and HealthWatch England
- The HealthWatch advisory group provides expert guidance to the programme board so it can advise Ministers on the implementation of the Government’s proposals for HealthWatch. The group also works alongside DH and CQC to look at practical ways of ensuring the transition to HealthWatch runs smoothly
- The advisory group has established a number of smaller task and finish (or sub-) groups to focus on specific issues such as securing the HealthWatch identity for HealthWatch England and Local HealthWatch, establishing what a good Local HealthWatch will look like and advising on the transitional arrangements from LINks to Local HealthWatch
- The CQC has set up an online community for anyone who is interested in HealthWatch to feed in their views (registration is via HealthWatch@nunwood.com). Views gathered from the online community will inform the HealthWatch programme board and its advisory group
- A full membership list for both the HealthWatch programme board and its advisory group, including sub-groups, can be accessed via the online community
- Updates on HealthWatch developments can be found on the DH website, LINks Exchange and the CQC website