CAMBRIDGESHIRE County Council says work is progressing to create a new health and social care watchdog which, it says, will help improve health and social care services in the county.

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Healthwatch Cambridgeshire will be part of a new national Healthwatch network from April 2013, giving people a voice locally and nationally on healthcare issues.

Through the network, Healthwatch England will aim to have the voices of all members heard by the Secretary of State for Health, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the NHS Commissioning Board and every local authority in England.

Local Healthwatch organisations will:

* have the power to enter and view services.

* influence how services are set up and commissioned by having a seat on the local health and wellbeing board.

* produce reports which influence the way services are designed and delivered.

* provide information, advice and support about local services.

* pass information and recommendations to Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission.

* act as an independent advocate for people who wish to complain about services.

Recruitment to key positions within Cambridgeshire Healthwatch has started and details of the vacancies can be found on the Cambridgeshire County Council website at: www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk

County council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, Councillor Steve Tierney, said: “These local Healthwatch organisations will involve diverse people of all ages. They will build on the experience of Local Involvement Networks, so ensuring continuity, and will be advocates and champions for all, giving voice to whole community.

“With a permanent seat on the Cambridgeshire Health And Wellbeing Board they will be a fiercely independent watchdog with real power to influence and affect change for the better.”

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