Whilst the official NHS consultation (Fit for my future) on the way forward for NHS services in Somerset managed to duck any substantial actual consulting, others have more substantial aims.
Healthwatch Somerset is an independent healthcare watchdog. It has a similar ambition which is broadly to make sure the health and care system in Somerset meets the needs of the people who use it.
So with that in mind staff and volunteers are taking to the roads of Somerset to find out what people think about their local health and care services. The Healthwatch Somerset consultation will be in stark contrast to the NHS consultation, which was almost entirely online and at less than a fortnight’s notice. This we reported on LevellerLive last month.
For the record NHS ENgland have asked us to clarify that Fit for my Future is not carrying out a “consultation” on NHS services in Somerset at the moment. It is instead doing a “public engagement”.
Instead Healthwatch Somerset are embarking on a roadshow will travel almost 260 miles zig-zagging around Somerset in a classic 1969 VW campervan and park up at key locations around the county to gather the views of people of all ages.
The roadshow will visit:
Friday 15 March: Frome Cattle Market Car Park – 2.30pm to 5pm
Saturday 16 March: Cox’s Yard Public Car Park, Somerton – 9am to 12 noon
Goldenstones Car Park, Yeovil – 12.30pm to 2pm
Yeovil District Hospital – 2.30pm to 5pm
Sunday 17 March: Shepton Mallet Market – 10am to 12.30
St Dunstan’s Car Park, Glastonbury – 1.30pm to 4pm
Monday 18 March: South Petherton Hospital – 10am to 12 noon
The Meadows Surgery, Ilminster – 12.30pm to 2.30pm
Staff Car Park at The Lace Mill, Chard – 3pm to 5pm
Tuesday 19 March: Fore Street, Taunton – 9am to 11am
Richard Huish College, Taunton – 11.15am to 1.15pm
Asda Supermarket Car Park, Wellington – 2.30pm to 4.30pm
Wednesday 20 March: Morrisons Supermarket Car Park, Minehead – 9.30am to 12.30pm
Harbour Road Car Park, Watchet – 1.30pm to 4.30pm
Thursday 21 March: Fore Street, Bridgwater – 9am to 12 noon
Highbridge Medical Practice – 12.30pm to 2.30pm
Tesco Supermarket Car Park, Burnham-on-Sea – 3pm to 5pm
Friday 22 March: Cheddar Medical Centre – 9am to 12 noon
Granted that just as previous NHS consultations, the roadshows are in office hours. But unlike the NHS, most of the Healthwatch Somerset staff are volunteers, not paid employees. So if you get the chance or see the campervan pop in and share your views. Maybe suggest how the NHS could do its consulting a bit better?