Rutland Healthwatch must ‘hit ground running’ according to chairman of group it will replace

A new health watchdog must get off to a good start according to the chairman of the group it will replace next month.

Rutland Healthwatch is being commissioned by Rutland County Council and will be run by an independent organisation from April 1 under the Health and Social Care Act.

Rutland Healthwatch will have a number of duties and roles including: having the power to enter and view health services; influencing how services are set up and commissioned by having a seat on the local health and wellbeing board; producing reports which influence the way services are designed and delivered; providing information, advice and support about local services; and passing information and recommendations to national group Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission.

The council is currently in the process of choosing an independent organisation to run the new group. The organisation is due to be announced later this month.

Rutland Healthwatch will replace health group Rutland Local Involvement Network, known as Rutland Link.

The group held consultations with people in the county last year about the development of Rutland Healthwatch.

Chairman of Rutland Link Kathy Reynolds says it is important the new group “hits the ground running”.

She said: “There is an opportunity here that must not be missed to learn and improve on systems for public and patient involvement in Rutland.

“Our local NHS must use the strengths of Rutland Healthwatch to enable them to reach their service users more effectively and thus glean more accurate reports on the patient experience.

“Rutland Link was set up three years ago and it was an uphill task to set up the structure and attract able and hard-working volunteers to steer its work.

“But we have made a lot of headway in those years and it is crucial that the county council constructively uses the experience of Rutland Link in the new Healthwatch.”

Mrs Reynolds added: “It must ensure that it hits the ground running.

“We can’t afford a slow start this time.”

For more information about Healthwatch, visit the website at www.healthwatch.co.uk