Search for organisation to run Sheffield health and care watchdog service

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A contract to provide public scrutiny of health and social care services in Sheffield for up to a decade is currently out for tender.

The contract to run the Sheffield Healthwatch service from October is being advertised by Sheffield City Council. The service, which all councils have to provide for their areas by law, is currently being run by Voluntary Action Sheffield.

It must be run by a social enterprise acting as an independent organisation.

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The projects that Healthwatch has run in Sheffield recently include finding out about what issues older people in Parson Cross face in getting access to health and care, speaking to young Pakistani Muslims living in Sheffield about their experiences and talking to people and their families about their views on palliative and end-of-life care.

Healthwatch Sheffield working recently to encourage community groups to apply for grants. Picture: Healthwatch SheffieldHealthwatch Sheffield working recently to encourage community groups to apply for grants. Picture: Healthwatch Sheffield
Healthwatch Sheffield working recently to encourage community groups to apply for grants. Picture: Healthwatch Sheffield

It has also been involved in consultation exercises to ensure that people who are under-represented get the chance to have their say on services that they use.

The Healthwatch report for February and March looks at issues including feedback from patients about GP services, A&E waiting times, medication shortages at pharmacies, supply issues with incontinence services and access to dentistry.

The advertisement on the government’s online contract finder service explains: “Their core purpose of making sure the views of the public shape the health and care services they need requires them to be:

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  • Independent in purpose – amplifying the voice and experiences of the most pressing and difficult issues in health and social care.
  • Independent in voice – speaking up on behalf of sometimes unpopular causes or groups who are marginalised and/or face disadvantage or discrimination.
  • Independent in action – designing and delivering activities that best meet the needs of the people they serve.

“If Healthwatch are to hold others to account, they themselves must operate with integrity, accountability and transparency to have credibility with the communities they serve.”

The council is seeking to commission a Healthwatch service for a seven-year period with an option to extend for up to three years.

Healthwatch Sheffield has a small staff team supported by a strategic advisory group made up of volunteers. They help to shape the work it does and keep track of progress on its priorities.