Healthwatch is the independent consumer champion created to listen and gather the public and patient’s experiences of using local health and social care services. This includes services like GPs, pharmacists, hospitals, dentists, care homes and community based care; giving people a powerful voice locally and nationally.

Emerging from the Health and Social Care Act 2012, local Healthwatch organisations were set up in every local authority area to help put patients and the public at the heart of service delivery and improvement across the NHS and care services.

Healthwatch  ensures the public voice is heard by those who commission, design and deliver health and social care services to make them better, now and in the future.

Working with relevant bodies like the Care Quality Commission (CQC), they can take action to investigate or undertake a review of services using authoritative, evidence-based feedback instigated by concerns that are bought to our attention.

GMLPC engagement with Healthwatch organisations 

GMLPC aim to touch base with Healthwatch organisations across Greater Manchester on a quarterly basis to listen to feedback they are receiving from pharmacy patients, identify mutual interests and opportunities for collaboration.

We have set up meetings with Healthwatch Manchester , Healthwatch Rochdale and Healthwatch Bury  and Healthwatch Trafford to discuss community pharmacy pressures and request that patients are made aware of the difficulties currently faced in the profession. Following a request from Healthwatch Manchester, an article has been produced detailing key issues and difficulties within the sector. This article was then sent for publication to all other Healthwatch organisations.

GMLPC and Healthwatch Trafford also plan to collaborate to produce a leaflet containing key pharmacy messages for patients. This will be distributed by Healthwatch to local GP practices.

GMLPC have also attended at GM Healthwatch Network in which we presented details regarding the pressures faced in community pharmacy to representatives of all Healthwatch organisations in GM in order to raise aware of these and ensure these messages are communicated to patients across Greater Manchester. Following this meeting it has been agreed that the Healthwatch network will distribute materials to raise awareness of Community Pharmacy pressures.

As a starting point GMLPC will produce a shareable infographic to highlight current pressures. This will then be cascaded to all Healthwatch organisations via the GM network who will then share the information with patients via the Healthwatch organisation’s website and e-bulletins.

GMLPC also took up the opportunity to present information relating the Pharmacy pressures during a Healthwatch Rochdale board meeting in order to cascade our messages further and help members understand the issues faced in our sector.

We aim to set up further meetings with all other Healthwatch organisations in due course and continue an ongoing dialogue with the GM Healthwatch network in order to gain regular insight into patient’s experiences of community pharmacy and stay abreast of any issues they are facing.

In December 2022, GMLPC met with the Healthwatch board via a quarterly meeting. As part of this meeting we received feedback in relation to patient experiences of the MAS service and the relationship between GPs and pharmacies. We also secured agreement that an infographic highlighting current pressures will be shared via the #TogetherRochdale campaign. Healthwatch Rochdale has also conducted a pharmacy survey. This will shortly be entered into the system together with statutory recommendations. This will be shared with us when published.

In early 2023 GMLPC met with the Healthwatch Stockport. A discussion was had around general pharmcy pressures, how they can help sharing infographic and message wider about how pharmacy are struggling. The group stated that they would be open to visiting pharmacies in order to collate feedback around patient experience and see the challenges first hand.

A Stockport specific update was also provided  around patient ordering  and updates about how this will be rolled out in are. Some concerns were noted around difficulty for some patients to use the NHS and patient access app, stockpiling and shortages, medication delays and the rise of the online drugs market and selling on of prescriptions. This was valuable feedback and these issues will be raised at future Stockport meetings around this project.