David Blacklock (CEO), Sarah Allison (Health and Wellbeing Manager) and I had the chance to attend the Healthwatch England Committee Meeting held on May 13-14th in Liverpool. It was a great chance to connect with other local Healthwatch projects and hear about the things that are happening across the northwest of England.
In addition to making strategic connections, it was also a chance to share best practice and creative ideas. I’m happy to report that Healthwatch Cumbria was highlighted by national leaders as being both innovative and entrepreneurial in its joint work with the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee around complaints handling by service providers. At several points during the conference it was noted that nationally, others can learn from Cumbria’s leadership!
Of course there is still much work to be done. One issue discussed is that as Healthwatch, we need to give as much attention to our children as we do our older adults. Although issues around ageing are incredibly important, we must not forget that Healthwatch is about amplifying the voice of all people. This needs to include the children and youth of Cumbria as well. We need to develop ways to listen to the concerns of our young people. They’re not just the future of Cumbria, they are Cumbria. Let’s put that on our agenda.
A common theme among local Healthwatch projects, is that the need is great while resources are limited. We can’t do everything. But based on the amazing work of our Healthwatch Cumbria team, we have a solid foundation to tackle some of these larger issues.
Dr Mark Hoelterhoff