Healthwatch Isle of Wight, the new organisation that from April will provide a voice for local users of health and social care services, has been appointed.
Healthwatch organisations are being set up across the country to replace and, crucially, to expand the important services previously carried out by Local Involvement Networks (LINk).
Healthwatch functions include providing information and advice about health and social care services, directing people to services so they understand the choice of care available and involving users in improving and shaping the services on which they rely.
It has been the Isle of Wight Council’s responsibility to commission Healthwatch and following a public consultation and tendering exercises it has now appointed the organisations who will provide the new service.
Today (Tuesday 21 January) the council has announced that a consortium of Help and Care, Community Action Isle of Wight (formerly the Rural Community Council) and the Island’s Citizens Advice Bureau operating as a social enterprise, has been appointed to run Healthwatch on the Island.
In addition, a new contract for a body to provide assistance for those seeking to make complaints against the NHS has been awarded to the South East Advocacy Partnership (SEAP) who are currently commissioned by the NHS to undertake this role.
Stuart Hutchinson (pictured), Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for adult social care and housing, said: “All of the organisations appointed to Healthwatch and to provide NHS Complaints Advocacy have a proven track record in these specialised areas and we are confident they will deliver a high quality service to Islanders.
“Healthwatch will effectively act as a ‘consumer champion’, making the views and experiences of the local community known to the people making decisions about these services, both locally and nationally.
“When we consulted the community about the sort of Healthwatch organisation they envisaged for the Island, people told us one of the most important things was having an arrangement that avoided duplication, made the most of existing Island networks and was able to demonstrate a good level of understanding of the local community.
“That is why I am particularly pleased that the consortium who will be fulfilling this crucial role are organisations who already have access to extensive networks, contacts, volunteers and experience of working locally. As such, together with the specialist services of SEAP who will work closely with the new Healthwatch organisation, they are extremely well placed to represent the best interest of residents.”
Councillor Margaret Webster, who chairs the Isle of Wight Council’s overview and scrutiny committee who helped evaluate the tenders received, praised the work of the outgoing LINk.
She added: “I look forward to the scrutiny panel working closely with Healthwatch towards the aim of helping residents shape and improve their local health and social care services.”
Commenting on the announcement that a contract to provide HealthWatch has been awarded to a consortium led by Help and Care, John Rivers, Chair of the CCG said: “I am delighted that a consortium made up of well known and trusted Isle of Wight organisations has won the contract to provide HealthWatch here. It is really important that the unique voice and concerns of Isle of Wight residents are properly understood and reflected.
“The Clinical Commissioning Group looks forward to working with the new consortium. It is the job of HealthWatch to keep the CCG, as the buyers of healthcare for island people, on our toes. We are keen to see the new consortium develop so it truly represents the voice of patients and the public to the CCG and all other commissioners of healthcare for island people.”
The new Healthwatch organisation and website will be launched officially in April. In the meantime, further information is available from http://www.iwight.com/council/publicServices/serviceDetail.aspx?servID=2710
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