Mental health, ambulance responses and dementia form Healthwatch Norfolk priorities for the year

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk.

Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk. - Credit: Archant

A health watchdog has set out its priorities for the coming year, including a focus on mental health services, ambulance responses, and dementia care.

Healthwatch Norfolk was formed last April to champion local patients' health and social care needs.

The organisation, which is based in Hethersett, has set out 14 priorities for 2014/15, which includes Healthwatch raising concerns with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust over mental health inpatient bed capacity, delays in referrals and support for carers.

The charity will also be focusing on child and adolescent mental health services, community nursing, dementia, the performance of the East of England Ambulance Service, maternity services, personal budgets and unpaid family carers.

Staff and volunteers from Healthwatch Norfolk have taken part in almost 100 public events and represented patients and carers in Norfolk at well over 300 meetings over the last year.

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The organisation has also published reports on child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) in Norfolk where they have call on the referral process for vulnerable young people to be sped up.

Another Healthwatch Norfolk report also revealed that unpaid family carers save statutory services in Norfolk £1.6bn pounds a year and another report focused on residential provision for adults with learning difficulties.

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Alex Stewart, Healthwatch Norfolk chief executive, said the charity would be working with those with direct experience of services to make sure they understand what is working well and where improvements need to be made.

'Healthwatch Norfolk is absolutely committed to being an effective, evidence-led organisation. These priorities for the coming year have come about through talking to people in Norfolk and understanding where they think changes need to be made.'

'We are convinced that the voice of patients, service users and the public is central to making services better. We are here to champion everyone who lives in Norfolk and make sure that their needs and priorities are reflected in the health and social care available to us in the future.'

For more information on the work of Healthwatch Norfolk, visit

Have you got a health story? Contact health correspondent Adam Gretton on 01603 772419 or email

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