Site icon Local Democracy and Health

Local Healthwatch – Getting Strategic and punching above its weight

HW Punch

In our work with local Healthwatch it struck me is that one of the challenges that local Healthwatch face is operating at both an operational and strategic level.

The default for understandable reasons tends to be towards the operational – not least because I suspect this is what they are performance managed on by their commissioner. In other words there is a focus on the delivery of services. In Healthwatch terms this might be:

All of this is clearly important – a local Healthwatch has no credibility if it cannot demonstrate that it has a clear programme of practical actions developed in response to concerns raised by members of the public.

However, this is not enough – they need to be able to bring their influence to bear at a system level too.

In the Quality Statements that we developed for Healthwatch England last year local Healthwatch identified that one of the most important areas by which their effectiveness should be measured was that concerned with how they manage strategic relationships – their relationship to their local health and care system as a whole.

In order to do this effectively local Healthwatch need to go further than just using their positional power on the Health and Wellbeing Board. From our work I have seen examples of where local Healthwatch are doing this successfully. Here are some examples.

Making Quality Accounts Meaningful

Following a report we wrote on with Healthwatch Leeds on the relationship between Quality Accounts (and Local Accounts) and local Healthwatch – Healthwatch Leeds have continued to develop work in this area. This year they are holding two workshops – the first held earlier this year gave Quality Account leads from across the system (big hospital trusts, hospices, community NHS trusts, the local authority) the chance to share progress they had made to address some of the challenges they identified in the Quality Accounts last year. The second workshop will allow a joint discussion on their draft Quality Accounts for this year.

This friendly, collective discussion achieves the following:

A shared approach to engagement

Healthwatch Leeds pulls together a “Public Voices Group” a regular bi-monthly meeting of engagement leads from across the health and care system – provider and commissioner. This forum provides an opportunity to:

Advice and Information

This is an emerging area. In our work across the country it has been striking that the area where the work of local Healthwatch is least understood is that to do with Information, Advice and Signposting for individual members of the public. I don’t think this is surprising for two reasons:

I think that this could be an area where local Healthwatch has a role to advocate for a strategic review advice and information provision – who is being missed out and what good might look like.

What do you think?

Exit mobile version