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New Independent Healthwatch Champion for Cumbria from April 2013

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New independent champion for Cumbria’s health & social care users appointed 

Healthwatch

A powerful new organisation has been appointed to champion the views of patients and adult social care users in Cumbria.

Cumbria County Council has appointed People First to run Cumbria’s first Local Healthwatch for the next two years from April 2013.

Local Healthwatch organisations are being created across England from April (2013) as part of the government’s health reforms which were passed into law earlier this year.

Cumbria’s Local Healthwatch will be an independent organisation, able to offer advice to patients and people who use health and social care services. It will also help to support patient and public involvement in the review and development of services.

Alongside the creation of Local Healthwatch, the government’s changes will see local public health responsibilities transfer to councils and GPs take control of the way local health services are planned and funded.

At the same time, the Cumbria Health and Wellbeing Board will be responsible for bringing GPs, councillors, third-sector groups and other professionals together to come up with solutions to the big challenges facing Cumbria. The new Local Healthwatch will be part of this board.

A separate procurement process has resulted in the same organisation, People First, being appointed to provide an Independent Advocacy Service to people in Cumbria who wish to make a complaint about their experience of the local NHS from April 2013.

The service will replace the national Independent Complaints and Advocacy Service (ICAS) which is being abolished as part of the NHS reforms

Both services were awarded to People First following a tendering process and will be funded by the Department of Health through the county council.

People First has run generic advocacy services in Cumbria for more than 20 years.

Councillor James Airey, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, said: “Local Healthwatch will stand shoulder to shoulder with patients and adult social care users to make sure their voice is at the heart of the way services are delivered.

“People First has two decades of experience in helping to make sure people’s voices are heard in Cumbria. I am sure they will build on this track-record to give patients and service users a stronger voice and drive more improvements in health and social care services across Cumbria.”

More information on Local Healthwatch and Cumbria’s new Independent Advocacy Service will be available from April 2013.

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