Next month sees a major step in the setting up of HealthWatch England, with the start of the recruitment of its Chair.
HealthWatch England will be the national consumer champion that will give a voice to collective views of the people who use NHS and social care services in England.
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 Chair is expected to take up the post in April 2012 (as Chair designate until the Health and Social Care Bill receives Royal Assent).
Dame Jo Williams, CQC Chair, said: "This is an exciting opportunity for us. HeathWatch 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."
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has also set out other important landmarks in the development of HealthWatch England including:
- appointing staff (senior staff to be in place by June 2012).
- developing information and briefings for local HealthWatch organisations by June 2012.
- developing a work plan for the new organisation by summer 2012.
- agreeing the budget with the Department of Health by summer 2012.
- agreeing how the relationship between HealthWatch England and CQC will work by summer 2012.
- agreeing the composition of and appointing the HealthWatch England committee(which will take up its role in October 2012).
- developing the HealthWatch England web site to launch in October 2012.
While these developments are taking place, CQC and the Department of Health will be talking to a wide range of organisations and individuals with an interest in HealthWatch and helping local HealthWatch organisations to develop.