Do you have an eye for detail and are interested in the latest health and social care developments in Gloucestershire?

By giving just a few hours a month of your time to volunteer with the county’s independent health and social care champion, you would be helping to shape local services for everyone.

Healthwatch Gloucestershire exists to ensure that people are at the heart of care.  Dedicated teams of staff and volunteers listen to what people like about local health and care services, and what could be improved.  These views are then shared with the decision-making organisations, so together a real difference can be made.

Members of the Readers’ Panel, a group which proof-reads leaflets, reports and documents on behalf of the NHS trusts, CCG and Gloucestershire County Council before they are published, give their top four reasons for volunteering with Healthwatch Gloucestershire:

1. You can help patients and their families get clear and easy to understand information

Volunteer Jo says: “By acting as a proof-reader, I can help to avoid errors in expensive printed documents and I always try to make sure that the final document is one that anyone can read and understand easily.  When patients are feeling poorly and needing written healthcare guidance, the last thing they need is a leaflet full of technical medical jargon.  Hopefully, Readers’ Panel volunteers can ensure that leaflets and booklets that patients or carers are given are always clear and informative.”

2. Keep up to date with local health and social care developments

Antonia, a Healthwatch Gloucestershire volunteer, has a strong interest in the quality of, and access to, health care.  She says: “I believe the most important to improve both of these is to learn from the experiences of those receiving that care. Being a member of the Readers’ Panel means that you are one of the first to learn about the latest resources or proposals coming into the local care domain, and then get to help make them more reader friendly.”

Fellow volunteer John Lane added: “Being a member of the Readers’ Panel enables me to have a say in the way important healthcare related information is presented in written form.  It also provides valuable insight into future plans for various healthcare services.”

3. Give something back

Cheltenham man John Lane has been volunteering for 18-months with Healthwatch Gloucestershire and says he really enjoys making a difference.  He says: “I became a volunteer to give me a sense of purpose, to meet interesting people and most importantly, to ‘give something back’ to the NHS for literally saving my life on several occasions following cardiac incidents.”

4. Have a sense of purpose and develop new skills

After giving up work because of a long-term health condition, Jo from Cheltenham, wanted to volunteer to give herself an activity she could do when able and in her own time.  She explains: “Having previously worked in the NHS, and now having a long-term health condition, I felt I could use my experience from both points of view in reviewing documents on the Readers’ Panel.  It helps having a framework to see when looking at documents, and every assignment is different.  So far it has proved enjoyable and I am looking forward to the next one.”

If you would like to help make a difference to people’s experiences of health and social care, get in touch with George Soars, Volunteer Officer at Healthwatch Gloucestershire, on 01452 504989 or email george.soars@healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk for more details.