Healthwatch Reading was launched in April 2013, along with 151 other Healthwatch’s in local authority areas across England, as the ‘consumer champion’ for health and social care. We have three keys areas of work:
- Influence the way services are designed and delivered based on evidence from those who use services
- Provides people with information, advice and support about local health and social care services
- Gathers the views and experiences of local people in the way services are delivered and have the power to enter and view adult health and social care services to get a feel for how they are delivering
One of the government’s key aims in setting up the Healthwatch initiative is to give children and young people – whose views for too long have gone unheard – a stronger voice. To achieve this, Healthwatch Reading has undertaken a number of initiatives over the past year, including:
- surveying around 170 secondary school children about school nursing and mental health issues
- holding a focus group of young carers
- investigating issues raised by families about child and adolescent mental health services
- meeting with the Reading Families Forum to hear the forum’s concerns about services and explain how Healthwatch Reading works
- working with Reading Youth Cabinet
Healthwatch Reading is independent of the NHS and Reading Borough Council, and employs a small team of officers with a mix of experience of working in healthcare, advocacy, community development, and communications. Its work is overseen by trustees and a board, and informed by a ‘reference group’, made up of members of the public who can register their interest in being kept up to date about health and social care developments in Reading and to contribute feedback.
The organisation logs every query, experience, comment, issue or complaint raised by the public, and can look into these on either an anonymous or named basis. Where similar themes emerge in the issues raised, larger Healthwatch projects may be instigated in a bid to make commissioners and providers aware of concerns, and influence changes to services. Healthwatch Reading also feeds its work into its umbrella body, Healthwatch England, which monitors emerging trends.
Families can contact the Healthwatch Reading team by phoning 0118 937 2295, visiting the website www.healthwatchreading.co.uk, or writing to Healthwatch Reading, 3rd Floor, Reading Central Library, Abbey Square, Reading, RG1 3BQ. Healthwatch Reading is also keen to come out and meet groups of parent/carers, so please get in touch if you would like us to come and listen to concerns of share good experience of services.