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Public’s chance to join health debate
1:00pm Sunday 13th October 2013 in News
The new watchdog for health and social care wants people in Wiltshire to get involved with influencing local services and raising concerns.
Healthwatch Wiltshire was officially launched last week and replaces Wiltshire Involvement Network.
The Government has set up Healthwatch across the country as part of its reforms of the NHS and social care.
Chris Graves, chairman of Healthwatch Wiltshire, believes it will have more powers than its predecessor.
It has a seat on Wiltshire Health and Wellbeing Board, the governing body of Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the quality surveillance group of NHS England.
It will represent the community and influence and challenge how health and social care are provided in Wiltshire, provide information to people about local services and flag up concerns about specific care providers.
It has the power to undertake unannounced visits to hospitals, care homes, GP surgeries and dentists.
Key to its work is hearing from the public about their experiences with health and social care services and it wants to recruit volunteers to help.
Mrs Graves lives in Devizes, is a social worker by background and worked for 40 years at Wiltshire Council, becoming director of strategy and commissioning until her retirement a year ago.
She said: “We want as many champions (volunteers) as we can who are willing to engage their social circle in high-level, brief conversations so it raises awareness and people develop views.
“I think a lot of time people don’t have views of health and social care because they are not at that stage, but I want people ... to take an interest in health and social care and to make some sort of thoughtful input into forward planning.”
Healthwatch Wiltshire, based in Melksham, has four directors, two staff and will recruit a chief operating officer. For more, visit www.healthwatchwiltshire.co.uk or call (01225) 434218.
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