Health Watch will help shape public services

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A NEW service to review public services in Warwickshire will arrive in the county earlier than in other areas in the UK after a ringing endorsement from the Government.

Even though Local Health Watch will not be established until the autumn of 2012, Warwickshire County Council has made such significant progress that the Department of Health has given it pathfinder status. Warwickshire was one of 75 schemes applying for the status.

Local HealthWatch is a statutory service which will come into being throughout the country as a consequence of the Health and Social Care Bill currently making its way through Parliament.

The new organisation will have an important role in providing advice and information to care users and patients, helping them navigate their way through local health and social care services. From April 2013 it will provide independent support to people wishing to make an NHS complaint.

Through the Pathfinder Scheme, Warwickshire residents will be able to benefit from the service earlier than in other areas.

Currently, Warwickshire’s arrangements are being shaped by a transition team which, the DoH noted, is considerably ahead of most other counties in how far it has set up processes for HealthWatch to become functional in 2012.

Cllr Bob Stevens, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for health, said: “The partners in the HealthWatch transition team have made excellent progress towards establishing this statutory body - as illustrated by the recommendation as a Pathfinder authority bestowed by the Department of Health.”