Healthwatch England is the national consumer champion in health and care. They have significant statutory powers to ensure the voice of the consumer is strengthened and heard by those who commission, deliver and regulate health and care services. These powers include the right to enter and view health providers, for which I have had the training through Healthwatch Bucks.
Nationally, Healthwatch has prioritised health and social care complaints:
The health and social care complaints system doesn’t work because it was never designed as a single system around the needs of people. Decades of piecemeal change has resulted in the current bewildering mess of over 70 different types of organisations involved in complaints handling.
We need reform and culture change to create a system that is simple, seamless and stress-free from people’s perspective and offers meaningful resolution. Some of this can be achieved through immediate changes to improve things now. But the problems go too deep to stop at minor adjustments, so we are also calling for wholescale reform.
There must be commitment across all parties to make the changes needed. We are calling for the next government to dedicate legislative time to create a compassionate complaints system as soon as possible after the general election in May 2015. People have been suffering in silence for too long.
Change is very much overdue. In the course of the Keogh Review, I heard time and again that patients’ experiences were among the most valuable data. I’ll be backing Healthwatch England: I have already put down a written question asking the Government to implement the immediate recommendations of this report. I look forward to the answer.
Healthwatch Buck’s first Board meeting in public will be held from 10.00am-11.30pm at Burnham Park Hall, Windsor Lane, Burnham, SL1 7HR in the ground floor Huntercombe Hall. All are welcome to attend: more here.