Lord Hunt of Kings Heath – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 2015-11-24.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they propose to take to ensure that a proper distinction is made between the role of the contractor appointed by the local authority to enable local healthwatches to be established and run, and that of the local healthwatch organisation itself.

Lord Prior of Brampton

The Department currently has no plans to undertake an investigation in to the performance of local Healthwatch organisations. In March 2015 the Department published a report commissioned from the King’s Fund – Local Healthwatch: Progress and promise – which set out the progress that local Healthwatch have made since being established in 2013. Transparency about the performance of local Healthwatch organisations is provided through the annual reports which they are required to publish. Reports on how the local Healthwatch network as a whole is operating and the nature of the support needed to deliver their activities effectively are discussed at quarterly public meetings of the Healthwatch England Committee.

Arrangements for ensuring local Healthwatch statutory activities are delivered in each area are a matter for local authorities. The Local Government Association has published guidance to support local Healthwatch and local commissioners in putting in place good governance arrangements, which includes clarity about the roles of all parties involved.

Neither the Department nor Healthwatch England are aware of local Healthwatch contractors refusing to engage with the public in their area. Where Healthwatch England is made aware of concerns in relation to local Healthwatch around governance or local relationships with specific individuals or organisations, it seeks to provide support to resolve these where appropriate. Members of the public are able to raise concerns though the complaints process of the local Healthwatch or the commissioning local authority.