The first public meeting of Healthwatch England took place in Leeds on 5 December 2012. Healthwatch England had been up and running for a matter of weeks, its purpose to strengthen the collective voice of consumers and users of health and social care services in England at a national level.
The day's agenda consisted of the committee, who bring a range of expertise in local government, third sector, health, children's services and disability, consulting on where Healthwatch England can focus its energy and resources.
Healthwatch England also announced the appointment of Dr Katherine Rake, who joins from the Family and Parenting Institute where she was Chief Executive. See 'who we are' for details of Katherine's experience.
Anna Bradley, chair of Healthwatch England said:
"Deciding where we focus our energy and resources is important – we have to be sure we add value where it's most needed. Naturally we cannot do this alone. We are already working with other experts in the third sector and national bodies to draw on their rich experience and knowledge.
I think we have a great opportunity to give consumers a voice at national level, building on what is said at local level.
"I am delighted to welcome Dr Katherine Rake to Healthwatch England. Katherine brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to an already impressive team. I look forward to working closely on building our priorities as an organisation and making a real difference to consumers and users of health and care services."
Norman Lamb, Health Minister, said:
"We want to put people at the heart of health and care services and Healthwatch England will play a vital part in these plans. It will make sure that people have a stronger voice to share experiences about their care, that they are listened to and that they have greater influence to drive improvements.
"Healthwatch England will need to both build and lead the network of local Healthwatch and become the national consumer champion for health and care services. The calibre of expertise and experience on the committee will enable Healthwatch England to rise strongly to this challenge and make sure that the views of the public are heard at a local and national level."