Developing effective local Healthwatch

Within the context of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 a number of key sectors have come together to provide effective leadership and support for the successful implementation of local Healthwatch (LHW).

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The key players are:

  • local authority commissioners (who will be responsible for providing local leadership, managing the contracts with their LHW and ensuring effective delivery in line with the legislation) – represented and supported by the Local Government Association (LGA)
  • Healthwatch England (HWE) (who will provide national leadership and support)
  • the Department of Health (who have overall responsibility for this policy area).

The Department of Health (DH), Healthwatch England and the LGA are collaborating in the provision of support to local authorities to help ensure that arrangements are put in place that enable their local Healthwatch organisations to perform and deliver to a high standard.

It is recognised that a well-performing local Healthwatch will help drive up the quality of local services, resulting in improved experience and outcomes for people who use them. This document sets out a collective view of what the key characteristics of an effective local Healthwatch would look like, structured around the key statutory roles.

Discussion with a range of stakeholders has also highlighted the benefit of clarity on how the requirements stipulated in the act might translate into practical responsibilities for local Healthwatch, against which their effectiveness can be evaluated by local authority commissioners and LHW themselves. This will in turn inform local authority tender documentation or commissioning frameworks.

About this document

It is hoped that this document will help local authorities both to commission local Healthwatch organisations and review how well their local Healthwatch delivers its roles and responsibilities. It can also help emerging potential local Healthwatch organisations understand what is expected of them and how they can develop to meet current best practice.

The document seeks to support sector led improvement at a local authority level by helping to shape the outcomes local authorities might want to achieve in their local Healthwatch commissioning role. It is important to emphasize that this document does not cover the commissioning process itself, nor does it offer a preferred organisational model for local Healthwatch.

The word commissioning in this document is intended to mean working with stakeholders to understand what is needed from local Healthwatch, specifying the requirements, and putting in place arrangements to deliver them. Local authorities take different approaches to commissioning local Healthwatch, which may involve a tendering process or a grant-funded route.

It is anticipated that emerging and aspiring local Healthwatch organisations can also make use of this as a tool for self-assessment in order to identify strengths and areas for development. Once they are established, LHWs are encouraged to publish the results of their self-assessments which would in turn help them to compare levels of maturity against good practice and their peers.

Published by:
Local Government Association
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