Visiting NHS premises is one of the core functions of the CHC's ‘quality monitoring’ programme of local health services on behalf of the public. Visiting is not the only method we use to monitor the quality of NHS services, but it does provide essential information on the state and acceptability of the environment where services are delivered.
The purpose of visiting is to ensure that the patients’ views on aspects of the quality of services is both heard and heeded by the NHS. It is a traditional role that CHCs have been carrying out since 1974, and we have developed a great deal of knowledge and expertise about local health services through their visiting programmes.
However, what CHCs do, has never been prescribed and CHCs have been able to establish their own methods of working within the framework of their statutory duties. One of the core functions of Community Health Councils (CHCs) is the monitoring of local NHS services on behalf of the public in order to improve these services for the benefit of the users. Service monitoring is an activity to which the North Wales CHC gives a high priority.
Every CHC has a legal right to enter and inspect NHS premises within its district except residential accommodation for staff. This right has been extended to include private hospitals and other medical establishments where NHS patients receive services.
It is important that visits have the potential of genuinely making a difference and improving the services provided. Though the role of the CHC member is to give a layperson’s / patient’s view of things, it is essential that visits are carried out in a professional manner.