FAQs

If you have any questions that aren’t listed, please contact us.

General

Healthwatch Surrey is an independent organisation that gives people a voice to improve and shape services and get the best out of local health and social care services.

We enable people to share views and concerns about local health and social care services, we provide evidence-based feedback to commissioners and providers to influence, inform and, if necessary, challenge decisions and plans and we can provide, or signpost to, information about local services and how to access them. We provide the free independent advocacy service for people wishing to make a complaint about poor NHS care.

Healthwatch was set up to ensure that the views and experiences of people across the country were heard clearly by people who run and plan health and social care services.

Activity

We collect people’s views and experiences through a variety of channels, including our telephone helpdesk and people visiting their local Citizens Advice. We aim to hear from all parts of the community, visiting groups as well as meeting the public on the high street and in service locations, like GPs and hospitals. On top of this, we also carry out targeted pieces of community research and service evaluation to find out experiences of particular issues, according to our priority areas, which are driven by what we hear. Everyone’s experiences are kept anonymously and confidential.

We present the evidence we collect to people who can do something about it. This may be people who buy healthcare services like clinical commissioning groups or surrey county council, but also those who provide and lead services, like the Chief Nurse or Director of Quality at the local hospital. We also sit on a number of high level boards who hold oversight of Surrey’s health and wellbeing services.p This allows us to use your feedback to shape and if necessary challenge decisions and plans on your behalf. We also work closely with the CQC, other local healthwatch and Healthwatch England to ensure that your feedback is used to influence national policy and action.

We regularly feedback the experiences we hear to those who buy, deliver or regulate services, which often results in direct action or investigation of the issues we raise.

Each quarter, we put together a report on the outcomes we have achieved for local people. You can find these here.

Impact

Healthwatch have a number of statutory powers or ‘levers’ to ensure that the people who plan, buy, regulate and deliver local health and social care services listen to what Healthwatch has to say. These include: a seat on the Health and Wellbeing Board; the power to refer to Overview and Scrutiny Committee; an annual opportunity comment on Quality Accounts; the power to conduct Enter and View; the power to make recommendations to commissioners and service providers and have these responded to within a time limit; the channel to refer things direct to CQC.  We can also use the media to show our teeth if necessary.

Healthwatch Surrey is completely independent from the NHS and social care services. Everything you share with us is kept confidential and is anonymous. NHS and social care organisations have a responsibility to listen to Healthwatch and the more we hear about local services, the more powerful our voice becomes.

Volunteering

Our volunteers support us in a number of different ways. They spend time in the community talking to local people to find out what they think of health and social care services in Surrey. They gather intelligence and report back on local health concerns and services, and they help us to raise awareness of Healthwatch by meeting with community groups, and distributing our leaflets. You can find more information about our current volunteering opportunities here.  https://www.healthwatchsurrey.co.uk/get-involved/volunteer/volunteer-roles/. If you would like to get involved, contact our Volunteer Officer, Zoe Harris zoe.harris@healthwatchsurrey.co.uk

We reimburse our volunteers for travel and parking expenses, and for refreshments where meetings or events take place over meal times.

Advocacy

If you would like some help and support in making a complaint about the NHS you can contact the free independent NHS advocacy service. They can give you information to help you raise your complaint yourself, and can also provide you with an Advocate to work with who can help you write letters to the right people, go to local resolution meetings with you, help you to explore your options, act on your direction and answer questions to help you make decisions about your complaint. The advocate can’t tell you what to do or make decisions for you though.

Yes, we will be your advocate throughout the whole process, to the best of our ability.

Once a referral is accepted and all necessary details have been provided, it will be allocated to an advocate who will then contact you within three working days.

No, the advocacy service is free to everyone living in Surrey.

Your Advocate can meet you anywhere you feel comfortable if you are not able to speak on the phone or visit their office

No, we provide a self-help pack that is free for everyone.

No it should not, if you feel it has then please let us know.

Yes, you are able to change your advocate if you have good reason to do so.

It is a standard UK landline number so will be free to call from a mobile phone providing you have inclusive minutes remaining in your call package

Once the PHSO has made their final decision, in exceptional circumstances you can appeal this.

 

No, the Advocacy Service cannot recommend a solicitor, but can give you details of a website where you can search for solicitors in your area.

You must submit your complaint within 12 months after the event you wish to complain about or 12 months after you have realised that you need to complain.

No, we cannot help you claim compensation.

Healthwatch Surrey have a contractual agreement with Surrey Independent Living Council (SILC) to run the NHS Complaints Advocacy Service.

If you are still not happy after the Ombudsman has taken action you can get a Solicitor involved and take legal action.

The Ombudsman gets involved after the Local Resolution Pathway has been completed. After this you then have a right to take your complaint to the Ombudsman (PHSO) for further investigation.

You can refer someone to the service with their consent or make a self- referral over the telephone or by filling in a web form.

Your information is stored securely at all times. It is held in strict confidence and in accordance with the current data protection legislation. Access to it is restricted to team members that have a genuine need to view it, and all staff contracts of employment contain a requirement to keep your information confidential.

This can vary widely and depends on the organisation that provided your treatment, but it is likely to take around 2-4 months to get through the first stages. However, if the complaint goes on to the Ombudsman, this can take in excess of 1 year.

 

Governance

Healthwatch reports quarterly to the public, to our independent board and to the commissioner at Surrey County Council. All related information is available on the Healthwatch Surrey website. We also produce an Annual Report which is published on or before 30th June each year, which is a report on how we have undertaken statutory activities of Healthwatch for national records.

There are “Member Nominated Directors” from each of our Founding Members (Surrey Independent Living Council, Help and Care and Citizens Advice Surrey). In addition, there are volunteer independent non-executive “community” directors (currently nine), including the Chair, which have been interviewed by and, if successful, nominated by an appointments panel. Once appointed they also become Community Members. The appointments panel is made up of the Chair, the CEO, at least one other Director and at least one representative of the community (usually a trustee or chief executive of an experienced voluntary, community and faith organisation). Directors may not be remunerated for being Directors but can claim reasonable expenses.

A Founding Member may remove any Founding Member Nominated Director appointed by that Founding Member. The Community Members and Founding Members acting together by a special resolution (75%) may remove any non-executive director. In addition, individuals cease to be a Director where certain events occur to them e.g. bankruptcy.

The Chair is appointed by the non-executive Directors (not the Founding Member Nominated Directors). There is no time limit on how long an individual can be Chair.

No, we’re independent. We’re here to represent your voice and we’re completely separate from those providing the service, which means you can be completely honest about your opinions.

No, Healthwatch England works at the national level.  we are a completely independent and separate organistion. They take local experiences of care and use them to influence national policy. Healthwatch Surrey (and the other local Healthwatch across England) signpost people to local health and social care services. We also collect and analyse the experiences that people have of local care to help shape local services. We will then feed views and any recommendations to Healthwatch England to act on at a national level. Together we form the Healthwatch network.

Finance

All Local Healthwatch have core funding by central government via the relevant local authorities.  However, each local authority ultimately determines the amount paid to their Local Healthwatch for the duration of their concession.
In addition, Local Healthwatch are able to generate income from other sources by carrying out particular pieces of work e.g. specific engagement or research activity.