Health watch dog will provide local safety net Rye Council is promised

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A GOVERNMENT funded health watch dog aims to champion patients and prevent a repeat of the Winterbourne View incident where vulnerable people were neglected and abused.

It will look at such issues as the treatment people receive, hospital waiting times and ambulance response times.

Julie Fitzgerald, the director of East Sussex Community Voice, gave a presentation to Rye Council’s public services committee on Monday.

Community Voice is an independent community interest company responsible for delivering the Government’s Health Watch programme in East Sussex.

“We are independent of any of the other stakeholders in the health and social care system. We stand quite separate.

“We have seats on the Health and Well Being Board, which is important as we can communicate the public voice and raise concerns.

“We are also here to gather the views of the public and patients in East Sussex about what is happening in health.

“That could include people who have been in hospital and have concerns about their treatment; it may be people in social care or their relatives.

“We then meet regularly with providers in the county and make those views known and report back what we are hearing.

“It is not comprehensive at the moment - that will take time to build. We have a close relationship with the Care Quality Commission.

“Things have gone very badly wrong elsewhere in the country and we need to keep talking to each other to ensure that the public remains safe.

“We hold great value in volunteers working with us. We have a growing pool of volunteers helping us to gather evidence and data to inform the system, such as information on waiting times and ambulance response times.

“We are there to be an independent consumer champion. We are really keen to work with young people. We need to get important health messages out to them if we are going to tackle some of the health inequalities in the county.”

Julie Fitzgerald said East Sussex Community Voice was keen to form a good relationship with Rye’s two patient participation groups.

The group has to give notice before visiting health facilities.