During the Summer, Healthwatch Dorset asked for volunteers in the community who would be willing to join a Steering Group.

“We were looking for local people with a passionate interest in helping the local community shape the way their health and social care services are run,” said Healthwatch Dorset Manager Louise Bate.

“It is a voluntary role and Steering Group members will oversee and contribute to the work programme and play a crucial role in monitoring its delivery.  They also play a part supporting the organisation to adhere to its principles, purpose and vision and ensuring that it operates in a moral and ethical way,” she said.

Retired public health physician Dr Margaret Guy is one of the people who has stepped forward to take on the role.  She said, “We need to enable more local people, including those who are harder to reach, to share their experiences of local health and care services – and we need to ensure this feedback is used effectively to develop persuasive arguments that influence the decisions made by the Commissioners and Providers of health and care services in Dorset.  The ultimate goal must be to improve the quality of services provided in Dorset and to ensure that these services are people-focused.

Margaret brings over 40 years’ experience of working with the NHS to Healthwatch Dorset’s new Steering Group – with particular experience of improving the population’s health and wellbeing, reducing health inequalities and improving the quality of health services.

Lauren Bishop has also taken up the opportunity, saying: “There’s plenty of evidence out there that ‘empowered communities are healthy communities’, and Healthwatch Dorset contributes to that.  Equally from a purely logical perspective, it doesn’t make sense to simply design services and hope they work for people; we have to involve people in that process to ensure that the solutions meet the needs.

“I see Healthwatch Dorset as being the link between health and social care services and members of the public. It helps bridge what could otherwise be a big gap and offers real opportunities for the whole community to work together to improve services and, ultimately, the health and wellbeing of local people.”

Lauren is a Health Programme Advisor at Public Health Dorset, with most of her work revolving around the LiveWell Dorset service.

The new Healthwatch Dorset Steering Group is made up of the following members:

  • Viv Aird, CEO of Bournemouth CVS until March 2019
  • Lauren Bishop, Health Programme Advisor at Public Health Dorset
  • Peter Greensmith, PPG member of Weymouth & Portland Locality Partnership Board
  • Margaret Guy, retired public health physician and ex Executive Director of NHS Westminster, current PPG Chair in Swanage
  • Richard Selby, Managing Director of Quay Medical Mental Health & First Aid Training

Four Special Advisors to the group were also appointed:

  • Amanda Shirlin-Brown (Children, Young People & Families), Parenting Lead for Children’s Centres in Poole
  • Naomi Patterson (Parent Carers) parent carer and a governor at Dorset County Hospital
  • Ebi Sosseh (Equality & Diversity) currently running the BCP CAB Hate Crime Project
  • Sue Warr (Older People) PramaLife manager at Pramacare, managing community-based support for older people across Dorset