Plans for Havering Healthwatch called-in to special meeting

A special council meeting will be held next week after proposals for consultation on a new body to hold Havering’s health service to account have been slammed.

As reported in last week’s Recorder, 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’ bodies will be set up to replace them – and will also incorporate the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) through which patients and health services try to resolve disputes.

Havering Council produced a report outlining three options for a future system: one would be a joint Healthwatch with Barking and Dagenham, one would be an expanded version of the current LINk model, and the other would be a new Havering-only body.

The Recorder has seen Havering LINk’s response to Havering Council’s consultation which questions whether the council’s report is in line with government codes of practice.

It states: “We noted with great concern that London Borough of Havering did not find it necessary to engage in an informal dialogue with Havering LINk or other stakeholders prior to the formal consultation.

“We are very concerned about the inaccuracies of the analysis in the consultation documents.

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“We believe that the consultation paper is very biased and tends to direct the consultees to support a specific option.”

Havering LINk, and the Labour group on Havering Council both believe that the consultation document is biased towards the option of joining up with Barking and Dagenham.

Havering LINK’s response also raises concerns that the three week consultation period is too short to meet government guidelines.

The Labour group has called-in the plans to be reconsidered at a meeting on Thursday.

Cllr Paul McGeary (Labour, Heaton) said: “I can’t see any reason why we can’t have a local Healthwatch in our borough.

“I hope they remove the Barking and Dagenham option and we can just consider the other two.”

But Cllr Steven Kelly, Havering Council’s cabinet member for individuals, said: “The consultation process has not finished yet. A decision will not be made until the consultation is complete and everyone’s views have been considered. Anyone who wants to take part can contact us.

“A summary of the key themes from the consultation will be made public at the end September 2012.”