Healthwatch England has been awarded over half a million to support system leaders in creating local long-term plans, the chair of the advocate for health and care users has announced.
Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event yesterday, Healthwatch England chair Sir Robert Francis said NHS England has awarded the organisation £500,000 to work with local partners.
He said the funding is designed to help local leaders take into consideration what matters to people in their area when implementing their local long-term plans.
Sir Robert added that Healthwatch has already allocated the money to 44 local Healthwatches, who will act as coordinators.
They will work in partnership with their corresponding sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) or integrated care systems (ICSs) to make sure the views of the public is reflected in the five-year plans they have been asked to put together.
Local Healthwatches will gather peoples’ views through events, focus groups and surveys, to be carried out between March and May.
Healthwatch England specified in a statement that the money has been grant funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement.
A Healthwatch spokesperson told Healthcare Leader that the organisation received a total of £504,000 to carry out this work.
The organisation also specified that as part of the grant agreement, ‘each STP/ICS will be asked to respond to the Healthwatch findings, setting out how they have used the feedback gathered from their communities to inform changes to local services’.
Speaking at the event, Sir Robert said: ‘I believe this is an important recognition of the contribution Healthwatch can make.’
He said that local Healthwatches have agreed with STPs or ICSs how they are going to work together.
Sir Robert added: ‘Each local Healthwatch will look at existing evidence, collect a defined number of responses from members of the public, run a series of small focus groups and provide the findings to the coordinating local Healthwatch groups. They will in turn feed the information on to provide a national picture.’
According to the long-term plan, all local systems are expected to collaborate with their local communities and delivery partners to bring the plans to life.
These will be ‘brought together in a detailed national implementation programme in the autumn’.
A survey of more than 2,000 adults commissioned by Healthwatch England last year found that 18% don’t trust those in charge of NHS and social care services and would want to be fully involved in decision-making processes.
Meanwhile, another 18% does trust the NHS leadership but nevertheless want to be fully involved in shaping services as they believe better decisions will be made following input from the public.