Labour today reveals that a third of local councils cannot guarantee they will have a fully functioning local Healthwatch in place by April 1st
Local Healthwatch are new bodies, created under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which are supposed to give patients and the public a stronger voice to influence how local health and social care services are provided in their area.
Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, said:
"David Cameron has failed to live up to his promise to give patients and the public a stronger voice in the NHS.
"Whilst the Government has pulled out all the stops to ensure Clinical Commissioning Groups are fully functioning by April this year, local Healthwatch – which are supposed to champion the interests of patients and the public – are barely off the starting blocks in large parts of the country.
"Many councils still haven’t signed contracts with organisations to run Healthwatch, and some say it will be months before they are properly up and running.
"If local councils, hospitals and GPs don’t know who will be running Healthwatch, what chance do ordinary patients have?
"The Government has been so busy trying to make its £3 billion top-down NHS reorganisation work, it has neglected the voice of patients and the public – at precisely the time this is desperately needed because of all the pressures on services and changes in the system."