HealthWatch England gears up for launch

Next month sees what has been described as a major step in the setting up of HealthWatch England – the start of the recruitment process for its chair who will take up the post in April 2012.

Other planned developments include putting senior staff in place and creating information and briefings for local HealthWatch organisations – both by June 2012. By the summer next year there will be a work plan for the new organisation, a budget will have been agreed with the Department of Health, and there will be agreement on how the relationship between HealthWatch England and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) will work. By October 2012 members of the HealthWatch England committee will be in post and the HealthWatch England web site will be up and running.

Patrick Vernon, chair of the HealthWatch advisory group said: “HealthWatch England’s chair will have a pivotal role in providing leadership and establishing it as the new consumer champion for health and social care in England. The chair will voice the views of people who use health and social care services to those responsible for services locally and nationally and be able to use those views to influence national policy.”

The CQC has called HealthWatch England “the national consumer champion that will give voice to collective views of the people who use NHS and social care services in England”.

CQC chair Dame Jo Williams said: “This is an exciting opportunity for us. HealthWatch England’s work will complement and strengthen CQC’s existing activity. CQC will provide HealthWatch England with a strong foundation. HealthWatch England will have clear routes to raise concerns about services, swiftly and effectively.”