Residents of all ages are being urged to use a new health watchdog to get more involved in how health services are run in Medway. Healthwatch Medway, set up as part of national government NHS reforms, has been set the task of championing the views of local people using the NHS and social care services. A new website – http://www.healthwatchmedway.co.uk – set for launch this summer, will provide residents with more information on the services it provides, how to get in touch and what it is doing to represent their views.

Healthwatch Medway is part of a 152 strong network across England working to ensure the voices of people using health and social care services in Medway reach the ears of decision makers both locally and on a national level. The service provides information and signposting to help people choose their health and social care services. It also organises events to help keep residents involved in planning and checking services and informed about changes that might affect them. A support service for anyone wishing to make a complaint if things go wrong with their NHS care will be run in parallel by SEAP, an advocacy support service for health and social care service users (www.seap.org.uk).

In addition, Healthwatch Medway is represented on key council and NHS committees, ensuring that the views of patients and the wider community – including children and young people – are included when decisions are being made. A consortium of community groups led by Medway Citizens Advice Bureau has been awarded the contract to carry out the majority of Healthwatch Medway’s work for the next two years. The other organisations involved are Medway Ethnic Minority Forum, Sunlight Development Trust, sexual health charity Metro and Hands Rochester. The contract was awarded on 25 March following a procurement process carried out by Medway Council, who will be funding Healthwatch Medway.

Cllr David Brake, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adult Services, said: “Healthwatch Medway is a key part of the government’s NHS reforms and will seek to ensure the voices of Medway residents are properly listened to when health and social care services are planned and delivered. “It is an independent consumer champion for the community and while the council will ensure it operates effectively and provides value for money, it cannot influence its priorities. These will come directly from the community it serves. “I would urge local people to use it to make their voice heard about local health services.

“A lot of preparation has gone in to starting this new organisation, which included the long process of procuring providers to run it.” Dan McDonald, Chief Executive of Medway Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to act as the people’s champion for Medway. “Healthwatch Medway will allow us to give a stronger voice to local people and act on their priorities to influence decision makers both locally and on a national level.”

To get in touch with Healthwatch Medway email:
info@medwayhealthwatch.co.uk
Phone: 566777
Or write to: Healthwatch Medway, 3rd Floor, Kingsley House, 37-39 Balmoral Road, Gillingham, ME7 4PF.
To get in touch with SEAP (Medway) phone 03003435715

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