Watchdog independence fears for Wiltshire
11:00am Friday 8th February 2013 in Latest News
The independence of the new health and social care watchdog was questioned after it was announced that its chairman is a former Wiltshire Council manager.
Wiltshire Involvement Network (WIN) will be abolished in April and replaced by Healthwatch Wiltshire as part of the reforms of the NHS.
WIN held a public meeting in Devizes Corn Exchange on Saturday where a host of speakers talked about the changes.
The meeting was told the first chairman of Healthwatch Wiltshire is Christine Graves, who retired from Wiltshire Council last September after 40 years. She was a manager in social care and health services.
Mrs Graves, who lives in Wiltshire, told the audience: “Some of you will thinking that I have got mixed commitments – I haven’t. I left the council in September.
“I made it quite clear at my interview (for Health-watch Wiltshire) that I was a poacher turned gamekeeper.”
The meeting, attended by 120 people, was also told that Healthwatch’s budget would come from Wiltshire Council in the form of a grant. The council will set outcomes it requires from Healthwatch.
Two members of the public expressed concern the funding would come from Wiltshire Council and questioned whether Healthwatch Wiltshire could be truly independent. Wiltshire councillor Mike Hewitt, a former chairman of the council’s health scrutiny committee, agreed.
He said: “WIN have been genuinely independent of the council. What worries me is the independence going forward, they are going to be tightly controlled.”