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Healthwatch Northamptonshire - protecting the rights and interests of people using health and social care in Northamptonshire during the pandemic

09/04/2020

A message from our Chair, Dr David N Jones:

David N JonesAs the independent champion for health and social care in the county and we continue to do that through this immensely challenging time. As a statutory body, Healthwatch has the role of working with others to both help communities have clear and accurate information and advice and safeguard the rights and wellbeing of people who use health and social care services. We wish to assure the public that we aim to continue doing this throughout the crisis – and to do it well we do need the help of the public.

We are now all getting used to the restrictions which have been imposed by Parliament and it is essential that we continue to remain at home to save lives and protect the NHS.

The Government’s emergency powers enable the country and public services to respond quickly to the pandemic and are based on the assumption that there will be a very significant number of people who become infected and require hospital and social care services.

Whilst this is expected to be a small proportion of the population, the numbers are expected to be far more than the health and social care system can cope with under normal circumstances. The Act makes it possible for the normal rules and guidance about the duties of services - and the way they should deal with people – to be changed when circumstances require it.

These emergency powers are understandable and necessary at a time of a pandemic, however many are concerned that the Act removes significant rights and protections for those with disabilities, chronic health problems and social needs. There has been a lot of talk about this on social media and many members of the public have been very worried. In a crisis, things will be different, but we still need to respect individual rights and wishes.

The role of Healthwatch as a statutory body is to work with others to safeguard the rights and wellbeing of people who use health and social care services. We wish to assure the public that we aim to continue doing this throughout the crisis – and to do it well, we need to help of the public. Please let us know about your experience of Coronavirus treatment – good or not. We will share this with the service providers to inform their plans as they unfold and help them to continue to deliver good quality care at this time.

You can send us your confidential comments on our website or by email. You can also phone us but please use the website, social media or email if you can to help us respond to you while we are working remotely. We cannot take up individual complaints, but we will pass on significant concerns and when appropriate we can advise on how to make a formal complaint. Our signposting service continues as normal.

We share with the rest of the population the highest regard for our medical and social care staff and service managers who are working so hard and coping with the current crisis. They deserve our total support and thanks. However, we do know that under pressure problems can develop and we need to remain watchful. We are here for you and your family and friends in these uncertain times. Please help us to help you and your neighbours throughout Northamptonshire.

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