Report from the Strategic Director for Adult Care, Housing and Health.
i) Approve Option 2 to procure a local Healthwatch Service for a contract period of 3 years from 1st April 2024 to 31st March 2027 (with an option to extend for a further year)
ii) Note the increase in the contract value.
Consideration was given to the report which noted that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 made having a local Healthwatch a statutory service and it was the role of the Council to set up that statutory service. Healthwatch Rotherham was expected to be the local consumer champion for patients, service users and the public covering both health and social care, for all ages including children. It was also expected, in future, that they would become a member of the Integrated Care Partnership as well as integrated care system and the Health and Wellbeing Board. It was confirmed that they were already a member of the Health and Wellbeing Board.
The main statutory functions were to obtain the views of people about their needs, their expectations, their experience, make reports and recommendations about how those services could be improved or whether they should be improved. They would promote and support the involvement of people in the monitoring, commissioning and provision of local health and social care services via information and advice to the public. Along with making the views and experiences of people known to Healthwatch England.
The Healthwatch service currently in Rotherham was delivered under the brand Healthwatch Rotherham by Citizens Advice. During the time they have had the contract they had undertaken research. They had published a wide-ranging number of reports including accessing dentistry, GP surgeries, and health and social care information. They had explored barriers to accessing Mental Health Services. They had assessed the experiences of Maternity Services in Rotherham amongst other areas.
The current contract for provision of local health was in place until 31 March 2024 and a formal procurement process was now required to secure ongoing arrangements after that date.
The suggested increase in contract value was due to the recognition of increased responsibilities of local Healthwatch brought about by the Health and Care Act 2022, in particular to be involved in the Integrated Care Partnerships and to develop an Integrated Care Strategy and attend partnership meetings along with sharing system wide relevant reports and recommendations.
Two options were considered, given the statutory nature of the service. The first was to undertake a competitive grant process which carried significant risk to the Council should the service performance deviate from the standard required. This option was not recommended. The recommendation was for the Cabinet to approve the undertaking of a competitive procurement exercise to establish a contract to deliver local Healthwatch service via a competitive tender exercise. Application submissions would be assessed on their track record and achievements, approaches for delivery of the new contract and against the objectives of the Integrated Care Partnership Board’s and working with neighbouring Healthwatch England to engage with all local people, including those with disabilities or disadvantages.
If approved, the tender would be published late September 2023 and awarded in December 2023 to allow any transition to a new organisation, if required by April 2024.
The Assistant Director Adult Care and Integration explained the main point was around the funding and the increase to the funding envelop to make sure a service could be procured that could drive forward those statutory responsibilities that Healthwatch should be able to undertake.
Resolved: That Cabinet: