Agenda item

Introduction to new Healthwatch

Lesley Cooper, Healthwatch Manager will introduce the new service and key issues for 2020-21.



The Chair welcomed Lesley Cooper, manager of the new Healthwatch service to her first Health Select Commission meeting. 


Healthwatch England (HWE) was established under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and every local authority was obliged to commission a local Healthwatch service.  The main powers and duties of the local Healthwatch were outlined for Members:


?      To represent the voice of local people in health and social care matters.

?      To signpost people to information on health and social care matters.

?      To provide information about what people can do when things go wrong with their treatment/care.

?      A have a seat on the Health and Wellbeing Board to ensure residents are involved in local decision making.

?      Powers to request information from commissioners

?      Powers to enter health and social care premises.

?      To feed back information locally to councils and partners and nationally to Healthwatch England


The new contract commenced from 1 April 2020 when Healthwatch moved over to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.  The transition happened smoothly with no loss of service due to advance planning, however the service had been affected by the pandemic in terms of delays in staff recruitment and forming the steering group.  The independent complaints advocacy work was no longer part of Healthwatch’s remit.


Healthwatch employed multiple means of gathering information from residents:

?      Speaking to local people at community events (pre Covid-19)

?      Surveys, social media and online forums

?      Getting involved in national campaigns via Healthwatch England

?      Healthwatch Hour (post Covid-19) – Question and Answer session

?      Working in partnership with other third sector organisations, service providers and commissioners


Activity to date in the first quarter of the year was highlighted:

?      Responded to residents’ concerns via email and telephone (69 clients to date)

?      Provided up to date information on our social media pages and website

?      Kept in regular contact with commissioners and service providers

?      Ran an online survey regarding Covid-19 (175 responses in 10 days)

?      Fed back information to Healthwatch England on cancer services, maternity and mental health.

?      Taken up our seat on the Health and Wellbeing Board.

?      Appointed two new volunteers for the Steering Group, (five potential members to be interviewed next week)

?      Made new contacts with established groups in Rotherham


During quarter two Healthwatch hoped to make progress and achieve the following:

?      Have a Steering Group in place with work plan and priorities agreed

?      Successfully recruit an Engagement Officer and Research & Campaigns Officer.

?      Set up a quarterly newsletter.

?      Expand the Healthwatch Hour idea to incorporate an online chat session

?      Work with third sector partners to arrange some form of engagement with seldom heard groups.

?      Continue to attend strategic meetings and build relationships with service providers and commissioners.

?      Work with South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw Integrated Care System.

?      Look at opportunities that arise from the post Covid recovery.


Future plans encompassed the #BecauseWeAllCare campaign (joint work with HWE and the CQC); outreach sessions (virtually in the first instance); post boxes for comments in all GP practices/outpatient areas and Healthwatch Hour/Healthwatch Huddles.  Hospital discharges would be one of the first issues in the eight to ten month campaign.


The power to enter and view health and social care premises had not really been utilised before but would be in the future.  Volunteers would run this part of the service with visits to three or four care homes each quarter and reports back to RMBC, the Clinical Commissioning Group and Public Health.


Members asked how the service connected with GPs, dentists and hospital patient groups.  With libraries and community centres due to re-open they also inquired whether that would present an opportunity to promote the service and as well as gathering information including in relation to the pandemic.  Confirmation was given that once staff were in place engagement with the community would be a key aspect, including talks to community groups about what Healthwatch could offer.  Newsletters, case studies and good news stories would all be used to show how Healthwatch had been able to help people. 


The Chair thanked Lesley for her informative overview of the new service and looked forward to closer working in the future.  It was also confirmed that Healthwatch would provide a short update on key activity and issues at each HSC meeting.