Healthwatch shortchanged: I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise

News from Healthwatch England today that:

around a quarter of the £43.5 million made available by the Department of Health to fund local Healthwatch has failed to materialise in local Healthwatch accounts.

Collectively the 148 local Healthwatch organisations have received £10 million less than was outlined in the budget by the Health Secretary

The money has either gone missing when it was allocated to DCLG to give to local authorities, or when local authorities themselves allocated it to local Healthwatch.

I’d love to say this was a one-off, but unfortunately it’s not. I previously pointed out:

although £27m was allocated for LINks, Councils only spent £24.3m of it on LINks – they effectively creamskimmed 9% off the budget

and concluded there was “no guarantee they won’t do the same for local [Healtwatch]”. Sure enough, that’s what’s happened.

There will be talk of “commissioning and procurement” costs, as well as “building” and “other overheads”, but that’s all crap, and local government* / DCLG will know it.

Two things really stick in the craw about this:

  1. Healthwatch is a statutory requirement. If this is being done for something that’s legally required, what the heck is being done to things that don’t have the same underpinning (such as advocacy?)
  2. Notwithstanding the overall very difficult financial climate, local councils often get support to meet their own statutory requirements. For example, they were given £11.3m in 2013/14 to collect new information regarding adult social care services (itself more than the amount local Healthwatch are missing).

As I tweeted:

What a load of bollocks.

(Original news via HSJ)

*I am actually a fan of local government, but sometimes it really doesn’t help itself.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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