IN Worcestershire there is something called Healthwatch that is supposedly charged with being a consumer champion - giving the public, patients and users of health and social care services a voice. In other words a watchdog.

It is unfortunate that it appears to be a toothless watchdog given the sad state of the county’s health and social care services: - • The demise of the Alexandra Hospital • Axing of stroke beds in Bromsgrove • Inadequate status of children’s social care And now the three Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCGs) decision to severely limit hip and knee operations - greeted by a deafening silence of Healthwatch. As a recent recipient of a total knee replacement through the NHS I deplore such a decision. And why 3 CCGs?

Surely a reduction would release significant funding in itself.

It is probably not evidentthat the health and social care economy of the county funds the salaries of Healthwatch, hence the silence on the decimation of public services.

Healthwatch refers to itself as “an independent consumer champion”– how can it be independent with funding coming directly from the health and social care economy? A watchdog with teeth is needed.

Mike Marshall MIHM, DHSM Bromsgrove