Local people are to be given more say on health and social care services in their area under new Government plans.
Southampton, Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Portsmouth (SHIP) have been successful in their bid to take on a pathfinder project that will help each area lay the foundations for their new local health and social services consumer champion groups.
The Local HealthWatch Pathfinder will enable all the partner areas to share knowledge, best practice and possibly resources in setting up individual bodies in their respective areas.
These local bodies will come into being in October 2012 to replace the Local Involvement Networks (LINks). They will also take on new roles including helping people who wish to complain formally about the health services in their local area and helping support people in making choices about their health or social care.
Cllr Roger Mazillius, Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for adult social care, housing and community safety, said: “I am delighted that our neighbouring areas will be working so closely to help ensure our respective HealthWatch bodies will be as effective as possible. HealthWatch will give patients and carers a real voice in how their local health and social care service is provided. We are looking forward to working with our partners in the region to learn from each others experiences and drive up standards.”
Cllr Felicity Hindson, Executive Member for Adult Social Care at Hampshire County Council, said: “The aim of Local HealthWatch is to act as the voice for people who use and need health and social care services. This new way of working will champion the views of patients and service users, promote high quality and integrated services and improve choice for patients by giving independent advice and information. Healthwatch fits well with personalisation which is designed to give people greater independence and more choice.”
Councillor Ivan White, Southampton City Council’s cabinet member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “HealthWatch will have a hugely important role to play and sharing experience, best practice and knowledge throughout the region and will help ensure people’s needs are truly met.
“It’s vital that residents have a say in how health and social care services are delivered and that they are offered genuine choice.”
HealthWatch England, a national body, will also be established in October 2012 to enable the collective views of people who use the NHS and adult social care services to influence national policy, advice and guidance.
While Healthwatch evolves people can still get involved through their local LINK.
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