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Bid to give public more say on health issues has an ironic ring

Wednesday, 16th May 2012.

Haverhill residents may view the latest moves by the county council to safeguard health services with a mixture of hope and irony, because it is supposed to give people more say in decision-making on health issues.

This comes at a time when residents have registered anger and dismay at the closure of the Crown Health Centre by NHS Suffolk and changes to the out-of-hours doctors' service - but with little sign of anyone taking any notice.

Now Suffolk County Council's cabinet has agreed to develop and implement a local ‘Healthwatch’ service in Suffolk.

Healthwatch Suffolk would become the 'trusted independent voice of local people on health and care issues', the council says.

The establishment of Healthwatch Suffolk is a direct result of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which stipulates that citizens should have a greater say in the decision-making and running of health and care services in their area.

Results from an initial consultation also indicated that people were in favour of the establishment of Healthwatch Suffolk in order to better represent the views of residents on health and care issues.

Of particular importance was the desire for Healthwatch Suffolk to concentrate on scrutinising local services and holding them to account.

The council is responsible for the development of the new Healthwatch service by the statutory implementation date of April 1 next year.

Work will now begin to recruit an executive to implement Healthwatch Suffolk to be responsible for leading the development of Healthwatch Suffolk. The executive will be made up of community representatives.

The council will receive funding of between £750,000 and £775,000 from central government to fund Healthwatch and will have a legal responsibility to ensure that it is effective and provides value for money.

Cllr Colin Noble, Suffolk County Council’s portfolio holder for adult and community services, said: “It’s great to have received the backing of my fellow cabinet members to establish Healthwatch Suffolk.

“We know that health and care issues are extremely important to the people of Suffolk and by setting up this new service we will be giving members of the public the opportunity to have their voices heard, to air their concerns and to play a much bigger part in how health and care services are delivered here in Suffolk.”

The county council says it is already engaging with communities to shape the future of Healthwatch Suffolk, as well as developing relationships with other key partners, for example clinical commissioning groups, the Wellbeing Board, Health Scrutiny and provider services.

Haverhill Online News

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