The East Sussex Healthwatch team turned up in a double-decker bus on market day last Thursday, July 28. They had hired it for a week, touring towns and villages in the county and this was their last stop. Their purpose is to raise public awareness of their role in raising health standards. They do this through providing feedback to health and social care providers, the NHS and local authority social service departments.
Although their primary objective is to act as a focal point for public dissatisfaction and complaints about the NHS, “in fact we are welcomed for constructively seeking improvements in our health system. We are an independent consumer champion, enabling local people to influence the development, design and delivery of local services”, said Julie Fitzgerald, director of Healthwatch.
Healthwatch East Sussex is based in Eastbourne and has some 85 volunteers, located at key delivery points such as the Conquest hospital in St Leonards.
It works in partnership with other voluntary organisations, such as seAp Advocacy, based in Hastings, which provides independent advocacy services on a confidential basis to help resolve complaints and issues concerning health and social care services. Other organisations present included Alcoholics Anonymous and Care for the Carers, both active locally in Rye.
photo: Kenneth Bird