Over the last year, the ten local Healthwatch teams who work across Greater Manchester have spoken to over 21,000 residents about what it is like to use health and social care services across the city.
From working with young carers in Bolton to seeking the views of people visiting A&E in Oldham, the issues identified by Healthwatch staff and volunteers are already helping to shape key decisions about the city’s hospitals, GP surgeries and council-run care services.
A new joint initiative, announced at the Healthwatch national committee’s quarterly meeting today in Manchester, will see this work boosted further.
A fund of £60,000 is being invested by Healthwatch England and the Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership to enhance the research capacity and capability of the local Healthwatch teams.
This will help turn the vital local level insight into evidence that can be used to inform decisions that affect the whole of the Greater Manchester area. The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has also invited Healthwatch to sit on the Greater Manchester Reform Board.
During the visit the Healthwatch England Chair, Sir Robert Francis QC, and Committee spoke with local people to hear how devolution is working for them.
Visits included a trip to Salford Royal Hospital to meet with leading doctors and nurses to understand how the Trust is working with local people to ensure the highest standards of care. The Healthwatch Committee also attended an event hosted by High Sheriff, Robina Shah, to meet young people at a forum focussing on mental health and well-being.
With Greater Manchester already one of the new ‘Integrated Care Systems’ which are being rolled out as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the learning from this visit and the partnership will be used help inform how Healthwatch teams in other parts of the country might work in the future.
Commenting on the funding Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said:
“In Greater Manchester, we’re proud of our work in bringing health and social care closer together, looking at social model rather than a medical approach. Through devolution, we are able to focus much more on prevention and a person’s physical, mental and social needs, starting in childhood.
“It was good to welcome Healthwatch to Greater Manchester to see this work in action and to gratefully receive £30k from them to support more local people in having their say on health and social care across the city-region.”
Commenting on the announcement Sir Robert Francis, Chair of Healthwatch England, said:
“When it comes to health and social care, Greater Manchester has a long history of setting the pace for change.
“To make the right decisions, this city’s leaders know they need to understand what local people want and need. This partnership is therefore recognition of Healthwatch’s unique reach into communities right across Greater Manchester and our ability to provide this insight.
“The additional funding, combined with the willingness to work so closely together, ensures that the views of patients and the public will be put at the heart of health and social decision making in Manchester."