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LINk Southwark: HealthWatch

On April 27th LINk Southwark Leadership Group of 11 members held their first meeting, and elected Co-Chairs, Fiona Subotsky and Barry Silverman and Vice Chairs: Felicia Boshorin (social care) and Milly Hutchinson (health).

The Leadership Group published its first briefing paper on Healthwatch, agreed its short term priorities, each member joined a Task group on either social care, mental health or on maternity and set up a training programme for ‘enter and view’ activities. A new governance framework was also agreed. LINk priorities will be developed with LINk Southwark’s 500 members and the LINk will hold public meetings in the near future. The LINk will be relaunched at an event in Southwark Town Hall in Tooley Street in June.

On April 1st 2013 LINk Southwark will evolve into Southwark Healthwatch. Local HealthWatch (LHW) and Healthwatch England will be created through the Health & Social Care Act 2012, as bodies to facilitate and promote the community involvement in health and social care for adults and children. LHW retains statutory roles in relation to involvement, engagement, monitoring and influencing commissioning, including the duty to monitor all local health services including GPs, dentists, King’s, South London and Maudsley, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trusts, and all local social care homes and services.

Southwark Healthwatch will have additional powers and roles including:

  • Full membership of the new Southwark Health & Wellbeing board
  • Providing or signposting NHS complaints advocacy for people with complaints
  • Providing advice and information  for patients to choose services which meet their needs
  • Elevating issues to Healthwatch England, which can raise them with the Secretary of State, Care Quality Commission, NHS Commissioning Board and Monitor.

Southwark HealthWatch will be a social enterprise contracted by Southwark Council. It will be a public body that will appoint staff to support members, be representative of the local community and operate with guidance from Healthwatch England.

Key development issues are:

  • Will the advocacy and advice be integrated fully into Southwark Healthwatch?
  • How will members be recruited and what role they will have in determining the priorities of Southwark HW?
  • How will Southwark HW become fully representative of the whole community?
  • Developing adequate support and training for Southwark HW members to become influential public representatives on Health & Wellbeing Boards, Clinical Commissioning Groups and other local NHS and social care boards?
  • How will Southwark HW representatives fully represent local need?

To join LINk Southwark contact the LINk Southwark Staff:

Alvin Kinch, LINk & Youth Manager and Sec-Chan Hoong, Research & Development Worker link@ch1889.org 020 7358 7005. www.linksouthwark.org

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