Havering Healthwatch consultation ‘not advertised’

The consultation on the future of the body which scrutinises Havering’s health service has not been advertised properly, it has been claimed.

Last week a special meeting of the council’s health overview and scrutiny committee was held after the issue was ‘called-in’ for consideration at the request of Labour councillors.

The Havering LINk body which scrutinises local health services is due to be abolished - with all other local LINks - under new government rules.

New ‘Healthwatch’ groups will be set up instead – and will also include the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) through which patients and health services try to resolve disputes.

The committee rejected calls for the consultation to go back to the council’s cabinet to be redrawn removing a controversial option to set up a new Healthwatch jointly with Barking and Dagenham.

The other two options are an expanded version of the current LINk model, and a completely new organisation.

The consultation on the proposal is due to end at the end of this month.

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Concerns were raised about the lack of advertising of the consultation process, which began in early August.

Med Buck, chairman of the current Havering LINk, said on Tuesday: “There are problems in communicating the message to people, they don’t seem to know about it. It’s not even on the council website, which would be very easy to do.

“Or they could even have an open day where people could come in and air their views.”

Labour councillor Paul McGeary (Heaton) agreed, and added: “Med, myself and others feel that option c [joint with Barking and Dagenham] is totally inappropriate for our local Healthwatch is obviously that would mean we were the poor relation.

“A Havering Healthwatch should be Havering based and it should express the views of Havering people.”

In a statement released on Wednesday, Cllr Steven Kelly, Havering Council’s lead member for individuals, said: “We have listened to views of residents who believe that the consultation hasn’t been advertised widely enough. In response to this we have extended the deadline.”

A council spokesman said that the information had been available inside documents available to download through its website and that ‘key stakeholders were informed’.

Residents who are interested in taking part should contact John Tench on 01708 433 776 or go to www.havering.gov.uk.