Specification for the procurement of a Local HealthWatch services for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and City of Westminster


1.1The purpose of this specification is to describe the basic characteristics and outcomes expected from a Local HealthWatch (LHW) commissioned jointly by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (LBHF) and City of Westminster (WCC). It is intended to provide tenderers for the Local HealthWatch with a common framework of minimum standards on which to develop their tender proposals.

1.2It sets out the activities required of a Local HealthWatch, the organisational characteristics required to undertake the Local HealthWatch role and the outcomes and standards expected in relation to the delivery of Local HealthWatch functions in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and City of Westminster.

1.3The tender is to be let in three lots, one for each of the three boroughs. Tenderers are invited to bid for one, two or three of the lots setting out the reasoning and the benefits to gained from their approach.

1.4As stipulated in the legislation, the Councils are looking for a social enterprise (i.e. a not-for-profit organisation) which can demonstrate experience and a strong track record in engaging communities and local people in public service design and development, with experience or a good knowledge of health and social care services.


2.1The Health and Social Care Act 2012 requires local authorities to commission Local HealthWatch by April 2013. However, the secondary legislation applying to LHW have yet to be laid before Parliament and the final funding allocations for local authorities to commission LHW have yet to be announced, therefore there are pressures building which may mean that the April 2013 deadline could slip. The Councils have decided to progress the procurement process in order to ensure that arrangements are put in place to meet the current statutory deadline and bidders will be expected to prepare their proposals and bids on this basis. Therefore, contract negotiations will need to recognise and react to any changes to requirements set out in the secondary legislation.

2.2The three Councils are liaising closely with the existing Local Involvement Networks (LINks) in the development of HealthWatch and expect the LINk legacy to be represented in the new model. However, we do not see the LHW as simply being a rebranded LINk, as they cease to exist from April 2013.

2.3The joint commissioning process will require bidders to demonstrate how, if they are bidding for more than one lot, they will provide the service which is locally accountable and capable of independent operation in each of the three boroughs. It is expected that tenders will demonstrate how their approach will achieve the economies of scale which could arise from a multi-borough contracted agreement.

2.4The requirements set out in the Act mean the LHW will be expected to:

  • Obtain the views of the wider community about their needs for and experience of local health and social care services and make those views known to those involved in the commissioning, provision and scrutiny of health and social care services.
  • Promote and support the involvement of a diverse range of people in the monitoring, commissioning and provision of local health and social care services through membership of local residents, service users.
  • Make reports and recommendations about how those services could or should be improved.
  • Provide information and advice to the public about accessing health and social care services and choice in relation to aspects of those services
  • Represent the views of the whole community, patients and service users on Health and Well-being Board
  • Make the views and experiences of the broad range of people and communities known to HealthWatch England helping it to carry out its role as national champion
  • Make recommendations to HealthWatch England to advise the CQC to carry out special reviews or investigations into areas of concern (or, if the circumstances justify it, go direct to the CQC with their recommendations, for example if urgent action were required by the CQC)

2.4It is expected that the tender will be awarded to a social enterprise with a track record of establishing and supporting a new organisation. This would not exclude other types of organisations from bidding, but they will need to demonstrate their ability to establish and support the Local HealthWatch through a social enterprise, potentially established for that purpose.


3.1The three Council’s have a shared visionfor what the Local HealthWatch should be:

“Local HealthWatch will be the independent consumer champion for patients and users of health and social care services.

Local HealthWatch will be membership based and aim to empower and represent the diverse communities in each borough, enabling commissioners to rely on it as a key facilitator of user engagement in the relevant service areas. It will provide intelligence - including evidence from people's views and experiences - to influence the policy, planning, commissioning and delivery of publicly-funded health and social care with a view to ensuring that the needs of service users are met.

It will also provide information and advice to help people access and make choices about services, operating in a way that complements and adds value to the three councils’ overall information and advice offer. This role will include signposting to independent complaints advocacy services.

Local HealthWatch will have a reputation for being be a robust and credible participant in the local health and social care economy by demonstrating that it has the appropriate level of skills, experience and competencies required to deliver its statutory functions to the required standards. It will gain the trust of the general public as well as other health and social care stakeholder groups by being responsive and acting promptly and effectively when things go wrong.

It will operate effectively and efficiently so that the councils can demonstrate value for money against agreed outcomes.

The service will ensure there are individual governance and specific arrangements in each borough to guarantee that the service is locally accountable and independently reflects local views and concerns.”

4.Key Attributes

4.1The successful tender will demonstrate experience and a track record in delivering community engagement, advice and information services highlighting how they have promoted the following key attributes and how they intend to develop them locally through HealthWatch:

Independence - a free-standing body which is respected for its independence and trusted by residents and stakeholders alike.

Clearly recognised – a body with a clear identity which is strong and distinctive from existing local organisations. It will embrace and utilise the Local HealthWatch brand developed at national level.

User-focused – relentlessly championing the voice of the user in the health and social care system

Inclusive – an organisation which finds ways to work with the many different patient and service user representative groups across very diverse populations with significant health inequalities which span the relevant local authority areas.

Communication Skills – experienced in communicating with residents, service users, professionals and lay groups and service providers. This should include a proven capability to reach out to under-represented and disadvantaged groups in a diverse and multi-cultural community.

Well-connected – able to signpost people to good quality information to help them make choices about health and social care; with access to established networks to gather comprehensive patient views.

Evidence based – a body which uses evidence to underpin its priorities and target its efforts.

Technically competent – an organisation that can demonstrate the relevant skills and competencies required to deliver its functions, including a good knowledge and understanding of current health and social care systems.

Influential – able to make an impact on the local commissioning of health and social care to both adults and children; complement other inspection regimes; and support patients and residents with signposting to information about the quality of local health services.

Flexible – an organisation which can work in partnership with key decision-makers (including the local authority, Clinical Commissioning Groups and other bodies at strategic level) while still being able to listen to individual patient concerns, represent them effectively, and challenge those same decision-making bodies when necessary.

Self-aware – an organisation which actively seeks feedback on its own performance and critically assesses its strengths and weaknesses.

Accountable – working to a clear set of standards against which the local authority and the residents it serves can appreciate its success.

Good value for money – an organisation that makes the best use of its resources byseeking to avoid duplication with other bodies in the local authority area, and where possible, working creatively with them to deliver the most cost effective solutions to achieve its chosen priorities.

5.Who is Local HealthWatch for?

5.1Local HealthWatch is for adults, children and young people who are legally entitled to access health or adult and children’s social care services in Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster or anyone who cares for or represents anyone who has access to, health or social care services in the boroughs.

5.2HealthWatch has a duty to assist local health and social care commissioners and service providers, and other community stakeholders, by providing feedback, research, and information on local people’s views and experiences of health and social care, to improve services.

5.3The Councils expect the HealthWatch model to be membership based, with a significant and demonstrable input from the membership in developing the strategic direction and priorities of the organisation.

6.Access to the Service

6.1Local HealthWatch will be accessible to all residents. The successful tender will have a track record in actively seeking the views and experiences of local people, including ‘seldom heard’ and socially isolated groups (e.g. young people, black and minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities, people with linguistic and learning difficulties, faith groups, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups, etc) using a variety of media, including but not limited to:

  • Website and other digital/online services (including access to surveys).
  • Telephone (including out of hours contact).
  • Office accommodation.
  • Community outreach services.
  • Mail Address (including a freepost facility where necessary).
  • Local HealthWatch will make full use of existing and well-established information and support systems and networks.
  • Mobilising their membership.
  • Public meetings, membership surveys, members groups and community forums.
  • Mystery shopping.
  1. Service Delivery/Functions

7.1To gather views and understanding the experiences of patients and the public, Local HealthWatch will:

  • Ensure systematic and on-going engagement with all sections of the local population, so that a wide cross-section of views are represented in respect of local health and social care, including membership subgroups and patient forums.
  • Seek the community’s views about the current provision of health and social care (including use of high quality research) and use this to identify the need for changes or additions to services which improve service quality or patient experience.
  • Undertake independent research, including the collation and dissemination of information from members, service users, carers and the general public.
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyse and channel high quality user feedback and public views on services to relevant commissioners so that they can inform the whole commissioning cycle.
  • Publish research findings and its recommendations to the public.
  • Monitor impact of changes and feedback to the public.

7.2In making people’s views known Local HealthWatch will:

  • Communicate the local community’s (including children and young people ) diversity of views, to health and social care commissioners in a credible and accessible fashion.
  • Make recommendations for service change.
  • Demonstrate impact by agreeing plans for implementation of service improvement and monitoring progress and managing performance.

7.3By promoting and supporting the involvement of people in the commissioning and provision of local care services and how they are scrutinised Local HealthWatch will:

  • Give input to new or proposed services in all stages of the commissioning cycle for both adults and children (e.g. through patient reference groups or board representation).
  • Work closely with commissioners to identify and maximise opportunities for local people to have their say and to devise effective plans for engaging users in key areas of change and development. This will involve using the broad range of stakeholder engagement techniques to maximise opportunities for local people to have their say, including where appropriate patient representation on the governance of bodies of health and social care organisations and through well-organised public consultations.
  • Provide the necessary support and training to enable users to participate effectively in areas of activity agreed with commissioners.
  • Exercise their enter and view powers judiciously by working collaboratively with service providers and other inspection regimes.

7.4Local HealthWatch will continuously evaluate existing health and social care services, making recommendations for special reviews or investigations to the Care Quality Commission through HealthWatch England based on robust local intelligence.

7.5By providing advice and information (signposting) about access to services and support for making informed choices Local HealthWatch will:

  • Provide a signposting service, operating as part of the overall offer of information and advice on health and social care services in the relevant council area(s), which is open to any local resident and aims to be accessible to all sections of the community.
  • Draw on all existing information sources relevant to this task (particularly local websites), ensuring the service provided by LHW does not duplicate or cut across the work of other agencies and is consistent with the overall approach to information and advice provision in the relevant council(s).
  • Work with commissioners to establish how the above can be achieved, keeping up to date with developments in information and provision and ensuring that any changes are taken into account in the service provided by LHW.
  • Seek to add value to existing information and advice provision locally by identifying gaps/weaknesses and either addressing these directly, where appropriate, or bringing them to commissioner’s attention with suggestions about the improvements needed.
  • Working collaboratively with other information providers.

7.6Local HealthWatch will ensure local intelligence gathering systems complement those established by HealthWatch England (HWE) by making the diversity of views and experiences of people known to HWE and to other local HealthWatch organisations.

7.7Local HealthWatch will provide information and advice to help adults, children and young people access and make choices about health and social care services. The experience individuals should expect from this service will be:

  • Signposting to local, evidence based information.
  • Signposting information available in a format/language to meet their needs.
  • Information available through a range of media e.g. leaflets, electronic, telephone, etc.
  • A service which is easy to find and access.
  • Communication about general health and social care information through local networks.
  • Support and promotion of local public health information and awareness raising activities.

7.8An Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS) for NHS services will be commissioned separately from this service, however, close liaison will be required between the Local HealthWatch and the ICAS provider.

  1. Accountabilities

8.1Local HealthWatch will be accountable to its members, local service users and resident taxpayers in the local authority area and the commissioning local authority in terms of value for money and HealthWatch England in terms of quality standards.

8.2The Councils will be looking for the provider to develop innovative tools to ensure accountability and should include, but are not limited to:

  • An annual meeting, open and accessible to local stakeholders/ members.
  • An annual report, audited accounts available for public inspection.
  • Electronic and social media.

8.3Depending on the number of contracts awarded, contract and performance management will be led by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea with appropriate officer representation and/or support from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and City of Westminster.


9.1Local HealthWatch will work closely with the commissioning local authorities, which will support HealthWatch in its role to:

  • Represent local people through the local Health and Wellbeing Board.
  • Work closely with the national body, HealthWatch England, and the two will work together to deliver a strong public voice.
  • Foster a broad range of relationships with local health and social care commissioners (using models demonstrated as being effective) and with provider agencies in the NHS, clinical commissioning groups, voluntary, community, business and private sectors (including hospitals).
  • Nurture partnerships with local service-user groups (and existing voluntary and community sector networks) and other LHWs to ensure high quality feedback and research.
  • Ensure the sharing of best practice by building relationships with other LHWs.

9.2Across the country, some members of the Local Involvement Networks have expressed an aspiration to form a body corporate to become Local HealthWatch in the fullness of time. In many cases this has proved unachievable within current statutory timeframes, however, the provider would be expected to support local residents in taking forward these ambitions, if appropriate, and in consultation with the Councils. It not envisaged this will be completed in this contract.