Healthwatch is the new independent consumer champion created to gather and represent the views of the public. It plays a role at both national and local levels and is there to ensure that public and service user views are taken into account.
Anyone can join their local Healthwatch and access information and newsletters. The organisation works with existing networks and their own local volunteers to find out what matters to patients and to take forward issues that they decide are priorities. They have representation at CCG level and try to include the views of 'hard to reach' groups.
There is a legal requirement for the NHS to use Healthwatch findings to shape service provision. Health and Wellbeing Boards came into operation following the 2012 Health and Social Care Act. Healthwatch has a sent on these boards.