Healthwatch is the new independent consumer champion for health and social care in England. It runs both as a national and local organisation. At a national level Healthwatch England, which was established on 1 October 2012, is a statutory committee of the Care Quality Commission. Locally it will operate as Healthwatch Herefordshire and will be established on 1 April 2013.
Healthwatch England gathers and provides a voice for the views of patients, service users and the public. It will influence national policy and will provide advice to the Secretary of State, the NHS Commissioning Board, Monitor and English local authorities. It will also provide leadership and support to local Healthwatch organisations.
Paul Bates said: “It is a privilege to be appointed to lead the establishment of Healthwatch Herefordshire, which will play a vital role in providing advice to individual members of the public who need information about local services or help in accessing them. It will gather the views of local people and ensure these are taken into account by health and social care organisations in Herefordshire when they are arranging their services.”
“Healthwatch Herefordshire must have a clear picture of the range of services being provided currently and put in place arrangements to make sure that individuals and organisations can voice any concerns they may have about them. Healthwatch Herefordshire will inherit a legacy of the excellent work undertaken by the Local Involvement Network (LINk) and I hope that some of its members will want to play an important part in ensuring the success of Healthwatch.”
Dean Taylor, acting chief executive for Herefordshire Council, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to appoint Paul Bates as the interim chair of Healthwatch Herefordshire. He is a local man with an extensive knowledge of the county and his fellow Herefordians.”
“Paul has recently retired following over 30 years as a chief executive in the NHS including a period of six years as chief executive of Herefordshire Primary Care Trust. His detailed knowledge of the health and social care system in Herefordshire, the challenges it faces and the concerns of local people will be invaluable in getting Healthwatch Herefordshire off to a good start. He is determined that Healthwatch will exercise its independence in a constructive but forceful way to help improve local services, building on the work of the LINk in recent years.”
Councillor Patricia Morgan, chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board said: “I welcome the appointment of Paul Bates, who will also become a member of the Health and Wellbeing Board. During his career Paul demonstrated his skill at engaging local communities and his willingness to hear their views and take their advice. I have no doubt that he will bring to the post the necessary independence that is required of Healthwatch. I look forward to working with him to ensure that local people have a stronger voice and greater influence and that by sharing their experiences they drive improvements in standards of care.”