The infrastructure umbrella body Navca has urged the statutory health and care consumer champion Healthwatch England to make sure voluntary sector organisations have places on local health and wellbeing boards.
The recommendation is made in Navca’s response to Healthwatch England’s Consultation on rights and responsibilities and our strategy, which closes today.
Health and wellbeing boards, established in the Health and Social Care Act 2012, are forums for health and care system leaders to collaborate to improve the health and wellbeing of their local population. They began their statutory role in April 2013.
Navca’s submission says that although organisations such as local authorities and local Healthwatch organisations have statutory places on these boards, "the voluntary and community sector does not and in many areas is struggling to secure a place".
Navca’s submission asks Healthwatch England and its local organisations to put pressure on boards to include the voluntary sector.
The document says: "This will strengthen the community voice and will enable local Healthwatch organisations to achieve their potential, by concentrating on their statutory roles."
The response also says: "Many Navca members have played a pivotal role in establishing local Healthwatch organisations, so we are particularly keen to continue to work closely with Healthwatch England to develop the potential of the network."
It says that local charities and community groups will often be aware of emerging issues before they are widely recognised and should act "as the eyes and the ears" of health and care, rather than Healthwatch England "seeking to create alternative or duplicate approaches".
Navca says Healthwatch England should "champion the role of the charities, voluntary organisations and community groups in delivering its vision" and also ensure local Healthwatch bodies develop or maintain a close relationship with "the full diversity of charities, community groups and voluntary organisations".
After the closure of the consultation, Healthwatch England will launch the final framework and set of responsibilities in its 2014/15 annual report, to be published in October 2014.