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People in Gloucestershire will be given a stronger voice to air their views on health and social care services in the county – thanks to plans by Evolving Communities, the new provider of the local Healthwatch service.

After a recent tender process, Gloucestershire County Council appointed Evolving Communities to provide the local Healthwatch service from 1 April 2017.

Evolving Communities, the parent community interest company of Healthwatch Wiltshire, plans to speak to people about their experiences with hospitals, doctors and other health services to help shape the health and care services in the area.

It also plans to increase opportunities for volunteers, support the introduction of digital technology to help people find information about health and social care, and continue to involve local people in shaping their health and care services.

As well as setting up a scheme to involve young people in health issues, Evolving Communities plans to have more of a focus on research and increase collaboration with health and care providers and commissioners.

A new office in Quedgeley has been opened to ensure there is a local presence and the well-known Healthwatch Gloucestershire brand will remain the same. There is an invitation to local people who have been involved in the work of Healthwatch Gloucestershire so far to continue with that involvement.

Chris Graves, Chair of Evolving Communities, explained: “The role of a local Healthwatch is to make sure the health and care system in the area meets the need of the people who use it. We gather feedback from patients and their families on services such as GP surgeries, care homes, hospitals, mental health services and social care.

“We then take these findings to the organisations which plan, pay for and deliver health and care services. We have great experience in this area and are delighted to have the opportunity to work with the people of Gloucestershire under this new contract.

“We are looking forward to building on what’s been achieved so far and working with local people on the health and care issues which matter to them the most.”

Cllr Dorcas Binns, cabinet member for older people at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “I’m looking forward to working with the new provider of our local Healthwatch service, Evolving Communities.

“We believe the new service will really represent our communities as well as work closely with current Healthwatch Gloucestershire members to involve them in the running of the new organisation.”

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