New Norfolk health watchdog boss ‘not afraid to tell it how it is’ as he stakes claim for more cash for NHS

New Healthwatch chairman, David Edwards (pictured). Picture: ANTONY KELLY

New Healthwatch chairman, David Edwards (pictured). Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The new chairman of a county's healthcare watchdog has vowed to push for more money to be given to the NHS.

David Edwards OBE took over at the helm of Healthwatch Norfolk two weeks ago, filling the big shoes left by former coroner William Armstrong.

And Mr Edwards, who has 25 years of experience as a hospital chief executive, plans to campaign for more money for the health service.

Mr Edwards, 74, said since the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt secured extra money for the NHS last year, he expected politicians would looking for something in return.

He said: 'But the thing I'm looking for from politicians is funding for health and social care.'

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Mr Edwards, who was also previously in top positions at the then Great Yarmouth and Waveney Primary Care Trust, the James Paget Hospital, and Cambridge and Peterborough Foundation Trust, said the UK's health service was 2pc short in terms of spending as a percentage of GDP.

'We can see the difference 2pc actually makes,' he said. 'I did a lot of work in the Netherlands and I never saw one person waiting in A&E. There something different there and the difference is 2pc.'

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Healthwatch Norfolk, which is billed as a consumer champion for health and social care, could have a role in putting on pressure for better funding, Mr Edwards said.

'I think we can make that contribution not just locally but also nationally,' he said. 'There is an opportunity to do that and I'm hoping to do that.'

Mr Edwards said he also wanted to look at the role of public health, and how many issues such as poor housing or deprivation played into the county's health.

He also said he was 'not afraid to tell it how it is' and saw Healthwatch's role as that of a critical friend.

He had sought assurance over the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) for Norfolk and Waveney, which was set up with the aim of saving £300m by 2021.

He said: 'If I look at the STP the question I want to be asking on behalf of the public is, is it deliverable? There are some great people working in the system but they have also got day jobs. All the answers I'm getting are yes, but within the timescale?'

But his overall message to the public was to get involved. He said: 'It's easy to pick up the organisations which have a particular issue they want to promote. It's much more difficult to get to the normal public who really have views but sometimes are slow in coming forward.'

Who is David Edwards?

Mr Edwards' previous roles include chairman of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust, chairman of Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, non-executive director and governor of the James Paget Hospital and a governor of Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust.

Mr Edwards was awarded an OBE for services to healthcare in 2005 and continues to be involved with the fields of education and research, having previously held several key governance positions with the University of East Anglia and is the current senior independent director of the University of Suffolk's board.

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