Smoothing the way - Developing local healthwatch through lessons from local involvement networks - Key messages
The first part of CfPS LINks review
The White Paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS set out a vision for a new patient and public involvement organisation, Healthwatch. Proposals for the establishment of Healthwatch are being taken forward in the Health and Social Care Bill which remains subject to Parliamentary approval (as at September 2011). There is anecdotal evidence that LINks have varied in their effectiveness. CfPS believes that it is in the best interests of people involved with LINks, local government, the NHS and social care, people who use services and communities to have a clear picture of ‘what “good” looks like’ in terms of developing a successful local Healthwatch organisation. We believe that the evidence we have gathered provides an extensive and credible picture of the development of LINks and of the lessons from their first three years of existence – these could contribute to the development of local Healthwatch.
Across a range of criteria designed to help LINks check their progress, between two thirds to three quarters of LINks report making ‘more progress’. However, between one third to one quarter report making ‘less progress’ across these criteria. Understanding what lies behind contrasting levels of progress and learning from the experiences of LINks will be important in the development of local Healthwatch. Local Healthwatch is more likely to develop successfully if there is a shared commitment to support practice leading to positive experiences and to avoid practice leading to negative experiences. Local Healthwatch Pathfinders provide an opportunity to explore practice further, to test the findings of this review and to demonstrate credible models for the future.