Local HealthWatch Briefing Paper v.1

It’s probably fair to say that I’ve become a bit of a HealthWatch Geek over the last few months. This is largely because I am naturally a bit swotty but also because I like a treasure hunt, and finding out any solid facts about Local HealthWatch feels rather like finding a needle in a big haystack of very boring documents from the Department of Health.

Anyway, to save our lovely local LINk people the trouble of staying up half the night reading through the footnotes in Department of Health Impact Assessments, I’ve put together a Local HealthWatch Briefing paper.

Now it has to be said that this is all my personal interpretation of the available documents, and others may disagree!  If you disagree, please let me know and we can plan a lovely HealthWatch dinner party and spend all night discussing involvement and scrutiny over port and cheese.  (Or I could just amend this document.)  It is also written in a way that hopefully makes it accessible to as many people as possible, so I’ve tried to avoid long words that might add clarification or accuracy, but would also put people off or confuse people. So as such, it may not be as nuanced as it could be!

View the HealthWatch Briefing Paper:

Click to view the HealthWatch Briefing paper

Click to view the HealthWatch Briefing paper

What to do with this document:

Please do have a read and let me know your thoughts. Feel free to distribute it or upload it to your website if you want to. You are very welcome to use any part of this for any purpose that you like – if you want a copy in Word so that you can fiddle about with it, please email me and I’ll be happy to send you a copy.  Enjoy!

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7 Comments on “Local HealthWatch Briefing Paper v.1”

  1. Jane Hosell says:

    Brilliant editorial and informative newsletter. As a fellow geekess on this subject but from a PALS perspective I share your views.

    Regarding TUPE of PALS staff, it is my understanding that as the funding will be directed from DoH and not transferred from PCT to LA then this will include PALS staff. If you look at HealthWatch on line community there was a very interesting on line chat with DoH regarding this, however it was a prime example of how to impart information without actually providing any.

    How on earth the signposting figure was gained in the first place is dubious, depending on what you define as true signposting – you could say that there is an element of this in a high percentage of the work we do but this also includes concerns which we understand will not be part of HealthWatch remit. Then as per your question if we are no longer in existence – who will undertake this function?? Talk is we will be thrown to the Clinical Commissioning Groups if they want us (with ? funding), if not we would all now like to know as we are getting increasingly frustrated and annoyed at the apparent lack of interest from DoH.

    What I suggested is if the DoH had decided to merge LINks and PALS along with ICAS it would have been a marriage in heaven, probably saved a lot of money and time and would have been a more powerful way of capturing patient experience. Also quite a lot of PALS like myself have also had experience of working with volunteers so between us it would have been a more natural progression instead of a grand chop up.

    I think it is currently a matter for DoH to sit down and wade through the mess they have created so hopefully some clarification will be provided shortly.

    • datagoat says:

      Hi Jane,
      Thanks for your comment! I have been exchanging emails with the DH about the calculation of PALS functions and it seems clear that they are revising their calculations all the time. I will send you more info via email!
      Of course originally, when the Community Health Councils were abolished they were replaced by PPI Forums, PALS, ICAS and Scrutiny committees. It seems to me that the HealthWatch model is largely gluing a lot of these things back together, which is why a lot of people are commenting that it is a re-creation of the CHC model in a lot of ways.
      I have every sympathy with the PALS staff about all of this and I hope there is clarification soon.
      LUCY

  2. Rod says:

    The first page reads very well, I thought, but after that it gets a bit wordy and confusing.

    “the local consumer champion across health and social care”
    Although that’s in big quotation marks, I (well, Adobe Reader, actually) couldn’t find those words anywhere in the Bill.

    The (not quite ready) Bill
    The Bill has been ready ever since it was presented to Parliament in January, but the Act is not yet ready.

    HealthWatch Somerset
    The Impact Assessment in January indicated that local HealthWatch organisations will be named “HealthWatch “, thus “HealthWatch Somerset” and “HealthWatch England”, in the same way as local authorities don’t actually have the word “Local” in their names.

    Information to support patient choice
    Not at all the same as PALS, though, because there’ll be more choices and more information. For example, patients are being given a choice of provider in three or more community or mental health services from 2012/13, the Any Qualified Provider policy will result in many more providers, including new social enterprises created by NHS staff, and an “information revolution” will gradually make much more detailed data on health outcomes available to the public.

    When will this happen?
    A bit misleading not to mention the pathfinders and shadow bodies. People might think that nothing can start happening until the Act has Royal Assent, or until next October, when in fact stuff has been happening for months.

    What sort of organisation will Local HealthWatch be?
    Probably not a charity, because the rules for charities do not allow influencing public authorities as a primary aim. And probably not incorporated by Royal Charter or statute because the Bill would surely have specified in those cases. Indeed, it specifically rules out any connection with the Crown.

    “in the same way that they fund the LINks”
    Probably not, I suspect, because of the different relationship to the host (if any) and the possibility of grant funding.

    “in most areas volunteers will not want to form a company”
    Really? Groups of volunteers form charitable companies all the time.

    • datagoat says:

      Hi Rod,
      Thanks for your comment – I can always rely on you for checking of accuracy! I will check my sources again as you may be right about the quotation… I might have just used it so often that I’ve convinced myself that it’s right… 🙂
      LUCY

  3. Nicola says:

    I think this is really helpful- but I do think many volunteers will NOT want to form a company, if they are the sort of volunteers who want to get stuck into commissioning, Health and Wellbeing Boarding, Commissioning grouping etc.

    In my experience there are also lots of people who WILL want to form a company- but they are the ones who will spend all their time forming companies, reviewing procedures, raising heads of terms, etc- so we may be left with the type of people who like bureaucracy not challenging it…

    My fear is that volunteers in general will not get this all together in time, and the LHW role will be put out to tender, and bids will come from other organisations who are already geared up to put in good business plans etc- we know who they are…..

    But would be happy to be told I’ m wrong.

  4. […] seemed to like my Local HealthWatch Briefing Paper which I scribbled in October last year, but a few things have changed since then. I wouldn’t […]


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