COUNCILLORS have thrown their weight behind a powerful new health watchdog launching next month – and insist it will help patients get a better deal.

From April, Healthwatch Worcestershire will be the county’s “consumer champion” for flagging up complaints and voicing opinions on the NHS. It will also gather people’s views and experiences of the service they receive, in the hope it can drive up standards.

Worcestershire County Council has agreed to sign the final contract to allow Healthwatch to become the official NHS watchdog and says it is confident the project will make a difference. As your Worcester News first revealed last year, former NHS non-executive director Peter Pinfield will be chairman.

The Government has confirmed it will give Healthwatch Worcestershire a budget of £321,000, which will be passed to County Hall to forward on. Councillor Marcus Hart, the cabinet member for health, said: “This body is the new people’s champion in Worcestershire, it will be there for the public.

“Since we first looked at this, the project has travelled a long way. We’ve got an excellent chairman in Peter Pinfield and executive directors with vast amounts of experience. It will be completely independent of Worcestershire County Council and will be run as a social enterprise. The money has been confirmed by central government and all we will do is simply pass that on.

“I believe it will be of benefit to people across the county and in a nutshell, we are very nearly there.”

Leader Councillor Adrian Hardman said: “I agree and think it all looks very promising – I think it will do a first rate job.”