Meet the Healthwatch Somerset Board
Chair of Board
Judith, who is a former school inspector from North Petherton, has a passion for shaping local health services. Mother of two Judith spent 15 years working in the nuclear industry, and 18 years as an Ofsted inspector. Since retiring six years ago, she has become increasingly involved as a volunteer in the governance of local NHS services, and is a public governor representing West Somerset. “I have volunteered with Healthwatch Somerset for the last three years because it’s a body that listens to people and their concerns about the NHS, and it is in a position to be able to lobby those who are able to make changes. I’m very aware of the problems facing the health service at the moment and supportive of the services, but equally I think the public’s voice should be taken into account when making decisions at a higher level. I hope my awareness, knowledge and understanding of primary and secondary health services will give a holistic view of healthcare in Somerset. I am excited by the prospect of being able to begin to shape an approach to the representation of views on health and social care in Somerset that will build on the excellent work done already.”
Rachel is a parent of two adult sons, with autism and learning disabilities has been a carer for 30-years. She volunteers with Healthwatch Somerset to ensure that the voice of people with Autism and learning disabilities and their families are represented. Rachel is a freelance personalisation consultant, which involves working with commissioners and providers to implement the rights of eligible people to good quality health and social care services under the Care Act. Rachel sees that one of her core roles is to gather feedback from those who use services and informal carers to ensure they get choice and control with better outcomes. She aims to increase people’s awareness of how to compliment as well as complain about their health and social care services, but more importantly ensure everyone in a community knows how to report abuse and safeguarding issues.
Mike is a retired soldier, and wants to make sure that the public using NHS and Social Services have the opportunity to have their say through Healthwatch Somerset. Previously a Healthwatch Volunteer in the Enter and View programme, he is also a caseworker for the Services Charity, The Soldiers, Sailors and Airmens’ Families Association (SSAFA). Mike’s background of dealing with government, industry, and people gives him a comprehensive insight and questioning, but supporting attitude in the matters dealt with by the Board.
Former ambulanceman Bob, from Shepton Mallet, has had plenty of first-hand experience with local health and care, having worked as an ambulanceman for over 30-years in the county and looking after his wife Shirley as her main carer before she passed away in 2010. His daughter Michelle is also in long term care, after suffering a stroke several years ago. Bob said: “By talking and listening to people who have been ill – you get fantastic knowledge and feedback on health services, which we will all have to use at some stage in our lives.”
Alan is a retired Royal Air Force Nurse, following 34-years service and joined Healthwatch as a volunteer during 2018. He has a broad range of volunteer experience with other organisations. Alan said:”Research has proven that those who have the time to, and volunteer are healthier, have less stress and lower blood pressure than those less charitable. Healthwatch Somerset fits with my background in Nursing and the Armed Forces. As a relatively new arrival to this area, I can see the issues that affect an ageing population, and recent reports that put Somerset in a high position on the young adult mental health issues league table. I have an interest in PTSD and dementia, and therefore am the square peg that fits the square hole that is the Board member with interest in mental health issues.”
Virginia is a freelance improvement adviser to Local Authorities, working with councils all over England to evaluate performance of special educational needs, early help and children’s social care services, in order to identify what is needed to improve the outcomes for vulnerable children and young people. She also helps organisations to improve the way they collect and use data, including service user feedback and complaints, and use that intelligence to help shape good service design and delivery. Virginia said: “I am passionate about giving people a voice and the opportunity to influence improvements and shape health and care services to better meet local needs. The role of board member will enable me to use the experience, knowledge and skills that I have built up over my long career in children’s services to contribute to Healthwatch’s important and valuable work.”
David, who is retired, has volunteered with Healthwatch Somerset for 4 years. He volunteers to make a difference to the way the NHS is delivered in Somerset, and the quality of care offered, and is currently receiving treatment and support for Parkinson’s Disease, and says that the support is brilliant. As a volunteer David is interested in the range of opportunities that are open to him, and encourages other just to try it.
Recently appointed; Bio to follow.
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