The first Annual Meeting of Healthwatch County Durham takes place on Wednesday 12 November, from 4pm to 6pm, at Bishop Auckland Town Hall.
Healthwatch is the consumer champion for patients and users of health and social care services throughout County Durham. Its remit is to be the ‘voice of consumers’ and to help improve health and social care services by gathering people’s views and then using the collective view to influence the organisations who provide the services.
Judith Mashiter, Joint Chairperson of Healthwatch County Durham, said, “Whether it’s a GP practice or a hospital out-patients department, a dentist, optician or pharmacist or social care service provider in a residential setting or at home, if people have views on what they would like to see improved – or indeed if they want to sing the praises of those who’ve served them well – we’d like to hear from them.”
Healthwatch organises many events for the purpose of listening to the views of people who use health and social care services.  Healthwatch staff can also ‘signpost’ people around what is for many people, a complex system. “Our Information and Signposting staff can help people find the right service for them so that they get the best care they can,” said Judith Mashiter. “We can also help people who are thinking that they’d like to make a complaint, or raise a grumble, but who don’t know where to start.”
The Annual Meeting will be an opportunity for members of the public as well as service providers, health and social care commissioners and representatives from the voluntary and community sector to find out more about the work of Healthwatch County Durham, and to hear about its successes since it was formed in April 2013.
Judith added,  “We’ll also be inviting anyone interested in being actively involved to talk to a member of staff or a board member and possibly sign up to becoming a Healthwatcher in their local community.”
Refreshments will be served at 4pm, so booking is appreciated – please call 01325 375960; however anyone who just turns up on will be made most welcome.