A NEW organisation giving Wirral people using health and social care services a voice locally and nationally will be launched in April.

Healthwatch Wirral is part of a new national network being set up by the government.

The network, launched by Wirral Council in partnership with Community Action Wirral, will replace the current system of community-based involvement networks, which have struggled nationally to involve a wide range of people of all ages and different sections of the community, and build awareness of their work.

Healthwatch Wirral will include individuals, community groups and local organisations working together.

The group will have a seat on the new statutory Wirral Health and Wellbeing Board, ensuring that the views and experiences of patients, carers and other service users are taken into account when local needs assessments and strategies are prepared.

It will also help ensure Healthwatch Wirral has a role in promoting public health.

Annette Roberts, chief executive of VCAW Wirral, said: "VCA Wirral is very excited about this new consumer champion for the public and patients in health and social care.

"Having successfully hosted the LINk project for the last four years, we feel that bringing the experience and learning from LINk will not only enhance Health Watch Wirral, but will make it a forerunner in improving services, and ensuring that residents can make a valuable contribution to the future planning of health and social care services.

"We will be working very closely with all agencies including more than 380 local service providers, GPs and the communities of Wirral.

"We will also be working particularly close with Wirral Council who from April next year will be responsible for public health on Wirral."

Cllr Chris Jones, Wirral's cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said: "This is an exciting development and builds on a good partnership working between the local authority and the voluntary sector.

"Wirral Healthwatch will enable people to share their views and concerns about their local health and social care services, and their contribution will help build a picture of where services are doing well and where they can be improved.

"Wirral Healthwatch will in turn be able to alert Healthwatch England to concerns about specific care providers."