Healthwatch England, the national champion for improving services, starts from October 2012 with a localised version, Healthwatch Herefordshire, being launched in April 2013.
Healthwatch will be the consumer champion for health and social care services and will have a wide remit to help support people who need assistance such as advocacy and signposting.
Additionally, Healthwatch will help members of the public to get involved in improving and, where appropriate, changing local services. It will help make sure people can find information, explain the choices available and support people to speak out if they are not happy with a service. Bringing together people’s views, concerns and experiences of services will help identify where services are doing well and where they can do better.
Herefordshire Council is responsible for setting up and commissioning the Healthwatch Herefordshire service.
Richard Beavan-Pearson, assistant director for customer services and communications, said: “We have some ideas about how we think this new organisation could work in the best interests of Herefordshire residents. But we want to hear from members of the public to find out how they think this important health watchdog should work most effectively.
“We are therefore asking people to log onto our website and take a couple of minutes to fill in a simple online questionnaire, or ring us for a paper version on Hereford 383535.” (See the website for details at www.herefordshire.gov.uk/healthwatch).