Last Updated: March, 2019

Healtheatch was created by the  2012 Health and Social Care Act  and is subordinate to the  Care Quality Commission (CQC) . Ostensibly it is designed to champion the patient voice within the health service, but it is weak, designed from the outset to be toothless. Most people have not heard of it, and it plays little or no role in defending any of the threatened hospitals and services. Some local Healthwatch groups have argued that it is not their brief to campaign or speak up for local communities as the best  Community Health Councils  used to do.

Unite the Union said of Healthwatch:

[There is] no real public awareness of, or confidence in the effectiveness of the new bodies established by the Health and Social Care Act to represent local views and give a limited degree of local accountability of NHS commissioners and providers. Healthwatch, despite the efforts and good intentions of some working within local groups, appears to be uneven and largely ineffective, with little if any public profile - and virtually no involvement in the issues which have galvanised the most active public interest...

Campaigners lacking any regular democratic access to shape outcomes are obliged to resort to street protests and petitions, or to judicial reviews in which only the legality of the process itself is scrutinised, not the merits of the proposals themselves.