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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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New group will let Cumbrians have their say on health issues

A new organisation to give patients a voice on local health issues is being set up.

Cumbrians are now being asked for their views on how it should operate to ensure everyone has a say.

The new Healthwatch group will act as a consumer champion for local people.

It is being formed as part of wider changes to health and social care services.

Cumbria County Council has therefore launched a consultation to help determine exactly how the new body will be run and by who.

The group aims to ensure decision-makers understand the views and experiences of people who use health and social care services.

Local Healthwatch organisations will be created across England as a result of the Government’s Health and Social Care Act 2012, and have to be in place by April 2013.

It is up to the county council to set it up, but once up and running it will be completely independent – ensuring everyone has a voice.

Healthwatch will aim to provide information and advice to people across Cumbria about health and social care services, direct people to services so they understand the choice of care available, and involve people in improving and shaping the services they use.

Much of how it will work has been set down in law, but the Government has also said it wants each area to make some of its own choices, so the new organisation meets the needs of people in each community.

The council is particularly keen to hear about what works at the moment, and what could be improved, in terms of being able to access information, advice and support about local health and care services.

It also wants to know what people think of its ideas so far, and what would make people want to get actively involved with Local Healthwatch.

County councillor James Airey, cabinet member for adult social care said: “I’d really encourage people to respond to this consultation – your views will make a difference.

“Local Healthwatch is going to play a key role in championing the views of local people so it’s really important that they shape how it will work.

“There’s an opportunity here to ensure the unique characteristics of Cumbria are taken into account, but we need to hear from local people to make sure we get it right.”

Visit www.cumbria.gov.uk to put forward your views.

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