There’s this new organisation they’ve just set up to be the independent voice of us citizens/patients/consumers when it comes to everything about health and care services in Leeds.
They call it Healthwatch. Everyone got one in April – all over the country.
On the face of it, it might have been OK.
What wouldn’t be to like about a truly independent organisation whose sole function is to get OUR views (constructive, critical, complaining, congratulatory) across to the people who design, commission and run health and care services in Leeds – the clinical commissioning groups, the community healthcare trusts, the hospitals and, now more than ever, the council.
Someone we can trust to challenge the health powers-that-be on our behalf when it’s necessary, and to speak up loud and clear for us at the meetings of the Best City Leadership Network Health and Wellbeing Board (I kid you not).
They thought at the start about handing the new service over to the people who had been doing the “patients’ champion” job in Leeds up to now, Leeds LINk.
But when they asked around, everyone that mattered said LINk wasn’t much cop and wouldn’t be up to the task.
So they put Healthwatch Leeds out to tender, the contract got awarded to a consortium of four independent organisations, and a part-time, independent chair was appointed …
Which just left them to hire someone independent to run this new, independent organisation – an independent director. (am I labouring the independence thing?)
Guess who they appointed …
Anyway, getting the right person in* was a great opportunity to send a clear message to us citizens/patients/consumers (whatever they’re calling us these days) that the new organisation wasn’t going to be the same old, same old.
And a clear message to our local health service providers (the council included) that Healthwatch wasn’t going to be part of any business as usual between long-standing partners and chums in the Leeds health leadership network.
So, guess who they appointed to be our champion?
A senior employee of the council!
THE senior council officer who for the last 15 months has been in charge of (guess what?) commissioning the Healthwatch service in Leeds.
A senior officer who used to be on the steering group of LINk, the organisation that was deemed not up to doing this new job of independent health champion.
A most usual suspect. One of the gang. An insider’s insider.
Not suggesting there’s anything dodgy going on, but … but …
It looks and feels rubbish.
They just don’t get it, do they?
(* no idea which bright sparks were on the interviewing panel. Anyone know?)