Even at times like this the NHS is never far from the headlines. So it is a little surprising that the body charged with collecting patient experiences and conveying them to the various parts of the NHS is not better known.
I visited Healthwatch Kent last week, and they are very eager to hear from you if you have any complaints or praise about the William Harvey, your GP, or any other part of the health service. Even more they are looking for volunteers to help with inspections of health facilities.
Apart from a small full-time staff, Healthwatch Kent relies on volunteers, and at the moment has 60 across the whole county. This inevitably means that they are stretched thinly in certain areas, and Ashford is one of them. If you have any time to help please get in touch with them.
Healthwatch has rights of access to hospitals and other health institutions, so can do inspections, either planned or unannounced. It is also closely involved with consultations about major changes in the health system in Kent. For example the discussions about how to reconfigure the system, including where to have the A&E departments in East Kent, are monitored by Healthwatch to make sure that the community’s views are genuinely being heard.
It is also a useful resource if you have a question like “Where can I find an NHS dentist?” Also, if you have an individual complaint it may be a good place to start the formal process, as they will be able to give advice about how to go about it.
The free phone number for Healthwatch Kent is 0808 801 0102, and the email is email@example.com. If you want to help them by becoming one of their volunteers, do get in touch.