New watchdog promises to have a bite

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All publicly funded health services, including hospitals, doctors surgeries, dentists and adult and children’s social services are getting a new watchdog to oversee them.

Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire will have the power to “enter and view” premises, including residential and nursing homes, to see how services are delivered. It will then be able to make recommendations to providers who will have to respond.

John Gelder, interim company director of Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire, families and service users could have confidence their views and experiences will be listened to and acted on. Luton and Bedford borough will also have their own healthwatch groups. Healthwatch will used trained volunteers.

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Mr Gelder said: “Healthwatch Central Bedfordshire will work with local voluntary organisations, community groups, providers and residents to ‘tell the story’ of their experiences, identify gaps and work with Central Bedfordshire Council, the NHS and others to improve and promote local services.”

Central Bedfordshire Council’s social care, health and housing supremo Councillor Carole Hegley said: “The quality of health and social care services matters a great deal to everyone, and by having an organization with real teeth and the backing of local people we can work together to make sure we’re delivering great services for everyone.”