What is Local Healthwatch?
Healthwatch is replacing LINKs and will be the independent consumer champion for the
citizens i.e. service users, residents, careers and patients, both in Sunderland and
nationally to promote better outcomes in health for all and in social care for adults.
In Sunderland, Local Healthwatch will act as a point of contact for individuals, community
groups and voluntary organisations when dealing with health and social care. Sunderland
Healthwatch will have a seat on the Sunderland Health and Wellbeing Board.
Health and Wellbeing Boards are a new body that are part of the government’s new
proposals for health. This Board will have a statutory obligation, starting in April 2013, to
make decisions on how health is commissioned in Sunderland. An interim Early
Implementer Health and Wellbeing Board transitioned into a Shadow Health and Wellbeing
Board in April 2012, before its statutory status in April 2013.
Sunderland LINK currently has representation on the Shadow Health and Wellbeing
Board. Healthwatch will be able to influence commissioning decisions and represent the
views of Sunderland people and stakeholders by having a seat on this board.
Information that Sunderland Healthwatch gathers on patients and the publics views and
experiences of the NHS will inform HealthWatch England, whose role is to influence health
and social care services at a national level.
What are the responsibilities of Local HealthWatch?
As stated Healthwatch will take on the functions previously delivered by LINks to involve
and engage local people in influencing health and social care services, ( as set out in the
Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007). However, Local
Healthwatch bodies will take on additional duties that will include:
Influencing: Healthwatch will present the views and experiences of local service users, to
decision makers, Sunderland’s Health and Wellbeing Board and to HealthWatch England.
It will also hold local care providers to account by reporting on services and making
Signposting: Healthwatch will provide information to service users to enable them to
access health and social care services by promoting choice. Some signposting is currently
provided by Primary Care Trusts (PCT’s) as part of their Patience Advice Liaison Services
(PALS) responsibilities. This signposting function will be taken on as part of Healthwatch
Advocacy: The local authority will take on responsibility for the NHS complaints advocacy
service in March 2013. A collaborative approach across 11 local authority areas is being
considered. The role of Healthwatch will be to work closely with the NHS complaints
advocacy service to enable it to:
o understand how the service operates
o signpost people who want to make a complaint/require advocacy in a timely and
What is the role of the local authority (Sunderland City Council)?
The Health and Social Act 2012 sets out responsibilities of local authorities which are:
o Be responsible for funding Local Healthwatch organisations
o Commission a Local Healthwatch organisation
o Be responsible for ensuring accountability and value for money (of their local
What is your local Healthwatch?
The Local Healthwatch organisation will be a social enterprise that will be able to employ
its own staff, as well as continue the LINk legacy of recruiting volunteers, and it will be
subject to public sector duties such as the Equality Act 2010.