The health and social care landscape has, and is, changing dramatically. Healthwatch Bracknell Forest is part of a national network of Healthwatch organisations but is commissioned locally by Bracknell Forest Council to enable the voice of local people to be heard.
The NHS reforms proposed in the White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS set out the government’s vision for the future of the NHS and its proposals for Healthwatch. It said that the NHS would “be genuinely centred on patients and carers” and “give citizens a greater say in how the NHS is run”. One of the main ways the government intends to do this is by creating a new consumer champion – Healthwatch.
The Health and Social Care Act (March 2012) required local authorities to have a local Healthwatch service in place by April 2013. This amends the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, which contained the requirement for the provision of a Local Involvement Network service (LINks) between April 2007 and March 2013.
The Health and Social Care Act moves the responsibility for the commissioning of health services to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) that in turn will work with partner agencies.
The ethos of the Act enshrines the values of localism and public engagement. The public are integral to the strategic development of services through stakeholder groups attached to GP surgeries and local authority departments. Healthwatch Bracknell Forest will be able to significantly contribute to current delivery by identifying the emerging needs of people who use services and the public through the collection of quantitative data, research and analysis and feedback to the providers of health and social care services in the public, private and voluntary sectors. Through the collection of information and comment, commissioners in the public sector will be able to offer more targeted services.
Healthwatch Bracknell Forest has a seat on the Health and Wellbeing Board. The board will develop a joint health and wellbeing strategy, support joint commissioning of NHS, Social Care and public health services, ensure close working relationships between Public Health England, NHS, local government, Director of Public Health and CCGs, and provide a framework for commissioning plans for the NHS, social care, public health and other services to best meet health and wellbeing needs for the population of Bracknell Forest and ensure that services improve health and reduce health inequalities.
Healthwatch Bracknell Forest is not only being set up to represent patient and public interests locally, it will also give local voices influence at the national level through the creation of Healthwatch England. Healthwatch England will be a statutory committee of the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Healthwatch England will be key to ensuring that the collective views and experiences of people who use services, influence national policy, advice and guidance. It will better enable CQC to address failings in the quality and safety of care by enriching the evidence used to regulate services. This information – alongside other data that it gathers – will also inform the CQC’s national work such as special reviews.
Healthwatch Bracknell Forest will take into account the Demography of the area, the population of which is 113,200 (2011 Census). The authority is split into six parishes, including Bracknell Town and sits within two parliamentary constituencies. The Bracknell and Ascot Clinical Commissioning Group (BACCG) includes practices outside these defined areas. Healthwatch Bracknell Forest sits in East Berkshire where there are three CCG’s and two other unitary authorities. Broadmoor Hospital, part of West London Mental Health Trust, also sits within Healthwatch Bracknell Forest boundaries.
Healthwatch Bracknell Forest will work within the regulations and procedures applicable to our partners where this is in the best interest of health and social care users. This includes Bracknell Forest Safeguarding of Adults and Children and Young People procedures.