No. Although Healthwatch England is part of the Care Quality Commission, local Healthwatch organisations have been established as fully independent bodies run by local people, for local people.

No. Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire will raise issues of local significance to Healthwatch England for them to use as influencing evidence at government level.

Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire is financially accountable to Central Bedfordshire Council. It is also accountable to its members and the general public of Central Bedfordshire for its impact as their consumer champion and watchdog of health and social care services.

Local Involvement Networks (LINks) ceased to exist after the 31st March 2013. Their work and legacy is being carried forward as part of the remit of local Healthwatch.

Local people’s voices will go directly into shaping health and social care services in their area. Those services will meet local needs in a much better way, ensuring people are able to get the best out of them. The more people get involved, the more impact the local Healthwatch will have.

Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire can request information from local organisations, commissioners and providers. They then have twenty working days to return the information requested. The trained members of Healthwatch (staff or volunteers) are authorised to perform ‘Enter and View’. These are powers to go to a service unannounced or announced and have a look at the work/standards in that practice.

Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire has worked very hard to create partnerships and collaborative relationships with local services and providers, in order to discuss issues openly and effectively.

Once local people bring up an issue, it will be addressed by Healthwatch and the service provider/organisation together. Twenty working days is given to the organisation to respond as to how they will resolve the issue and improve. A report is then produced by Healthwatch and made public.

The report will include recommendations both from the public involved in the Healthwatch and the steps taken by the organisation concerned.

Service providers as well as health and social care organisations have a duty to the public to listen to issues that are brought forward and respond to/act upon them.

It is key to us. Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire is driven by local people; we only take up the issues that locals tell us about. Therefore, the more people, the more issues/services looked into.

There is a huge scope of opportunity for people to get involved; from signing up and receiving Healthwatch newsletters and reading Healthwatch news, to attending events, taking part in local and national consultations, and suggesting issues to be reviewed. There is the opportunity to volunteer as a representative at Healthwatch meetings, as well as become fully trained and authorised to perform ‘Enter and View’ visits.

No. We are all affected by the quality and provision of health and social care services, so Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire wants to hear everybody’s experience of these services, and positively encourages everybody to get actively involved in our work.

A large number of people actively involved.

People feeling like they have been able to make an impact and that they have ownership of the services they use.

Healthwatch being recognised as the place to go to find out about health and social care and to comment about the services they receive.