Healthwatch Rutland aims to improve care in the county

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Rutland’s new health watchdog has launched a series of public events as it tries to shape the future of care in the county.

Healthwatch Rutland has revealed its programme for 2014 and says it is keen to work with patients, carers and a variety of health organisations to improve services in the county.

A number of “listening events” will be held around the county through February and March, where people can raise any issues they may have.

Healthwatch Rutland chairman Jennifer Fenelon said: “Users of services and carers have left us in no doubt that they want a strong, clear, independent voice to describe the problems that they face to the organisations who plan and deliver health and social care services.”

She added: “As well as listening, we work with planners and providers to try to help improve the problem areas we hear about.

“We have been heartened at how willing local organisations are to work with us and to listen to the user’s voice.

“With them, we can share the evidence and build up an independent picture of health and social care in Rutland.”

Healthwatch is a national initiative set up to champion the rights of healthcare users. Healthwatch Rutland was commissioned by Rutland County Council and replaced the Rutland Local Involvement Network, known as Rutland Link.

The group has already set out a number of initiatives for the coming year.

Healthwatch services will soon be available from the Citizens Advice Bureau in High Street, Oakham.

Its chief executive Jane Clayton Jones said: “Good information empowers people to solve their own problems, by adding Healthwatch to our service we are further expanding the ‘one stop shop’ service we already offer”

The watchdog will have offices at Voluntary Action Rutland in Lands’ End Way, so it can work closely with the county’s voluntary sector.

And an ambitious project to get the views of people with dementia and their carers has been launched.

Healthwatch Rutland member Margaret Demaine said: “By the spring we hope to have a picture of what dementia services look like through the eyes of people with dementia and their carers.

“Dementia is a big challenge for Rutland but no-one knows better what services are like than people who use them.”

People will be able to raise issues with the watchdog when Rutland Community Spirit’s First Contact Mobile bus visits towns and villages during February and March.

Rutland Community Spirit is a charity that supports vulnerable or isolated people over the age of 60.

County council leader Roger Begy welcomed the watchdog. He said: “We are all intent on improving services for Rutland people and we want to work together. We have a very loud voice when we all join together.”

Visit the Healthwatch Rutland website or call 0116 2574 999.