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Healthwatch England chair to step down

NHS backlog to keep rising until 2024, Javid anticipates

By Jess Hacker
5 May 2022

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Sir Robert Francis QC has announced he is to step down as chair of Healthwatch England in November this year.

He also confirmed he will retire from the board of the CQC, of which he has been a member since 2014.

No replacement has yet been named, with the DHSC confirming it will soon start its recruitment process to fill both roles.

Sir Robert was appointed to chair the watchdog in October 2018, having previously chaired national inquiries into the Freedom to Speak Up Review into the treatment of NHS staff who raise concerns.

Healthwatch England is an independent consumer-focused body, working with NHS England to advocate for patient interests.

Sir Robert was recently appointed by the Health and Social Care Select Committee to evaluate the Government’s progress against its targets to improve the delivery of cancer services in England.

On his retirement, he said: ‘People who use services must be central to NHS and social care decision-making. Their voice is crucial to understanding what works and how services can be better. Greater attention to listening and acting on public feedback has led to real improvements in policy and practice.

‘However, the health and social care system continues to face challenges in meeting demand and in maintaining safety and quality. So, listening to people who use services and providing the resources to enable this to happen are ever more important Not only will this help to prevent tragic failures in care occurring, but it will also result in better support and lives for many people in England.’

CQC chair, Ian Dilks OBE, said: ‘It is clear that Sir Robert’s contribution both as a CQC Board member and as chair of Healthwatch has been significant. He is a passionate and committed advocate of people who use health and care services, and has helped to ensure that their voices and experiences have become increasingly central to shaping the regulation and delivery of these services.’

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