New health watchdog a step closer

By Emily Pearce

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

 

THE development of a new health and social care watchdog, to monitor services and champion patients' rights, has taken a step forward.

Plans for a consultation on the new Healthwatch organisation, which will replace current watchdog the IW LINk next April following government reforms of the NHS, were announced on Wednesday (25) by the Isle of Wight Council.

The role of Healthwatch will be to represent the public, inspect health and social care services and suggest how they can be improved.

It will also help patients complain about services they are unhappy with.

The public consultation — which will cost £5,250, with £5,000 of funding from the Department of Health and the remainder coming from existing council service budgets — is due to be approved under delegated powers by the council's cabinet members for children's services and education, Cllr Dawn Cousins, and adult social care, housing and community safety, Cllr Roger Mazillius.

A decision cannot be taken before Thursday (May 3).

The delegated decision report stated concerns had been raised in the past about the effectiveness of the LINk and, prior to that, community health councils. It stated: "With more flexibility being given to local authorities to find a local solution for Healthwatch, the early involvement of the community in shaping its future could help its likelihood of success."

Reporter: emilyp@iwcpmail.co.uk

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by John Heelan

26th April 2012, at 11:41:56

Another expensive "toothless tiger"!

The Minister of Health has confirmed that the Freedom of Information Act will not apply to privatised health companies providing public services funded with taxpayers' money.

Thus neither the public not the media will be able to investigate themas they can the NHS, nor, it appears, will Healthwatch be able to publish the results of its investigations into the private health providers.

In the future, the old FoI escape clause "commercial confidentiality" will be seen frequently spouted by civil servants monitoring the privatised health service.

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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