Healthwatch Somerset FAQ'sFrequently Asked Questions about Healthwatch Somerset
You can find answers to some frequently asked questions about Healthwatch Somerset by clicking on the tabs below.
What is Healthwatch Somerset?
Healthwatch Somerset is one of a network of local Healthwatch organisations around the country. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 introduced local Healthwatch as well as Healthwatch England which is the national umbrella body.
Together we exist to represent the consumers of health and care services.
Why was Healthwatch Somerset setup?
Local Healthwatch and Healthwatch England were introduced, in legislation, to provide a strong voice for local people on health and social care. To find out about social care you can view this informative booklet about social care. The legislation requires the commissioners and providers of services to listen. Healthwatch Somerset’s aim is to be a ‘critical friend’.
How is Healthwatch Somerset setup?
Healthwatch Somerset is an independent service and is run by an organisation called Evolving Communities CIC (a community interest company limited by guarantee).
How is Healthwatch Somerset funded?
Our funding comes from central government via Somerset County Council.
What do you do?
Healthwatch Somerset is a local independent service which exists to speak up for local people on health and care. Our role is to make sure that the health and care system in Somerset reflects what local people expect and need. We will listen to your opinions and experiences of health and social care services and feedback your views to the people who plan, pay for and deliver health and care services (the Commissioners and providers). We can also help you to find the information you need about a local health or care service or point you towards someone who can help you if you need support to raise a concern or make a complaint about a service.
We are independent from the NHS, Local Authority and other local health and social care services so people can talk freely about whatever they like. Healthwatch Somerset exists to fulfil the statutory functions of a local Healthwatch. These functions can be broken down to:
- Engaging with local people about health and care services and promoting their involvement in all areas;
- Providing an information and signposting service for local people so that they can make choices about health and social care services;
- Monitoring the quality of health and care services;
- Using the voice of local people to influence commissioners and providers.
How does Healthwatch Somerset work?
How our workstreams are identified, prioritised and reviewed. Priorities for Healthwatch Somerset are identified in a number of ways:
- Local people are encouraged to identify areas of concern and bring these to the attention of Healthwatch Somerset by telephone, email or letter, or attendance at local events. (Where particular issues are not within Healthwatch Somerset’s remit, people will always be advised on the right agency to contact for help.)
- Partnership working is key to Healthwatch Somerset’s philosophy, so local service user organisations suggest areas of work, and timescales for completion. This avoids duplication of effort.
- Commissioners in both Health and Social Care also assist Healthwatch Somerset in identifying any specific topic related priorities.
- Healthwatch England heads up the nationwide network of Healthwatch organisations and sets out its statutory responsibilities e.g. the right to Enter and View any publicly funded health and social care service. (View a list of the Statutory Duties of a Local Healthwatch)
How do you set your priorities?
Some of Healthwatch Somerset’s priorities are embedded in the reasons we were originally formed – to improve health and social care services today and help to shape them for tomorrow. We exist so that local people are able to influence the delivery and design of local services here in Somerset. If people tell us that there are problems with existing provision, we will work with those who purchase, design, develop and provide services in order to improve them. When priorities change for the public, we can respond to this. Sometimes our priority is to make sure that those who commission and provide services are responding to what works best for patients and users of services rather than the priorities for their organisation. If you have ideas about priorities for Healthwatch Somerset we will be happy to hear from you. If we are unable to help we will explain why and advise on who might be able to do so.
How do you monitor health and social care in Somerset
We actively monitor health and social care services in Somerset by:
- Responding to the concerns of the public who make contact with us
- Attending (and sometimes leading) lots of meetings, forums and consultations;
- Finding out how services are performing and where there are gaps in provision;
- Helping those who purchase, design and provide health and social care to improve things, especially when there are problems in the system.
- Finally, if things go really wrong, by going direct to services to find out exactly what the problems are.
What is Enter and View?
Healthwatch Somerset has statutory powers under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, to ‘Enter and View’ publicly funded health and social care premises to speak to people about their experiences of using the service. We will usually let the service know that we intend to carry out an Enter and View visit and what the purpose of the visit might be. If we receive concerns from members of the public or through our quality monitoring we may decide to carry out an unannounced visit. Only authorised staff and volunteers who have received Enter and View training can take part in these visits.
Healthwatch Somerset is described at a 'Critical Friend' what does that mean?
It means that we work closely with the people who develop and purchase (commission) and provide health and social care services in Somerset. To get services that best suit the public means that Healthwatch Somerset has to scrutinise and sometimes closely question decisions that are made about health and social care. That could, for example, be about the quality of provision, where the services are provided or about access to services.
How can people get involved with our work?
We are always keen to hear from people who have comments or ideas they want us to hear or who might become involved in our consultations. If you don’t use a computer we can tell you about the work we do or print you a copy of any publication you particularly want to see. People’s views and ideas are at the centre of our work at Healthwatch Somerset and how we ensure that the public can influence health and social care in Somerset. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on 0800 999 1286 (freephone) or write to us at Woodlands House, Woodlands Business Park, Bristol Road, BRIDGWATER TA6 4FJ.
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