On Monday, HealthWatch England was formally launched. You can read a little about the background of the launch here and the Frequently Asked Questions of the HealthWatch England website are very useful indeed if you want to find out what HW does, how it differs from the previous Local Involvement Networks (LINks) and things like that.
I happen to think that HealthWatch is one of the untold good stories of the reforms captured within the Health & Social Care Act.
I also happen to think that local HealthWatch organisations present a tremendous opportunity for local Disabled People’s User-Led Organisations to build on their excellent work in representing the voice of disabled people locally and in supporting people to navigate their way through the health and social care systems.
More specifically, I think the following 3 key opportunities are available when it comes to local HealthWatch organisations and DPULOs:
- DPULOs can be the local HealthWatch. Many local authorities are starting to tender contracts for the local HW functions, and DPULOs can bid to deliver these contracts
- DPULOs can be part of the local HealthWatch. If they don’t want to bid directly for the contract, they can either partner formally with those who do, or perhaps deliver parts of the contract as subcontractors
- DPULOs can ensure the voice of disabled people is represented on local HealthWatch through being involved in its work. They can do this by finding out who is or will be delivering the local HealthWatch and sharing how they can support them in their work and engaging with disabled people – through partnership working, information sharing, direct engagement work etc.
I can’t stress strongly enough the opportunity that local HealthWatch presents for DPULOs.
To help make the most of this opportunity, the Strengthening DPULOs Programme is going to do some dedicated work in the West Midlands and the South West to explore the issue of DPULOs and HealthWatch. We’ll find out what the issues and barriers are, as well as share practical learning on how best to make the most of the opportunity.
If you’re a DPULO doing work in the area of local HealthWatch, please do get in touch – I’d love to hear from you.
#HealthWatch and #DPULO: a big opportunity