Hello from our new CEO

In this blog we hear from our new CEO Amanda Stratford about her first month in post.

April has seen my first month as CEO of Healthwatch Cornwall and I am delighted to have joined a team with so much commitment to the delivery of quality health and social care services for everyone across Cornwall.

I come from a background in the charity sector across health and human rights based organisations; local, national and international; and it is my passion for the positive change people can make when they come together that both attracted me originally to work in this field and continued to keep me in it for more than 25 years.

Early April was Healthwatch Cornwall’s fourth birthday so I had an excuse to bring cake into the office during my first week … always popular. During that week it very quickly became evident what a welcoming team I had joined and that there is a strong desire from everyone involved with Healthwatch Cornwall to ensure that we reach out to the many communities across the county, making sure people know they can come to us to raise any concerns and of course highlight areas of quality provision too.

I have spent my first few weeks travelling around the county, getting to know our volunteers and meeting some colleagues at Healthwatch in Devon as well as the folk involved in developing the Shaping Our Future (sustainability and transformation) engagement plans at NHS England and Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust.

I have been really impressed at the degree to which Healthwatch Cornwall’s independence and proactivity is respected by the many people I have met.  As fairly small not-for-profit organisation, with only eight staff, we rely on the support and involvement of our volunteers to generously give of their time to help us deliver our statutory remit.  They do this in many ways – by joining our Board, running some of our drop in sessions and supporting us with administrative tasks.

We have around 20 volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, ranging from GPs and healthcare workers to business people, senior managers and those with extensive experience as patients. As part of the Healthwatch collective serving 152 areas across England our independence is vital and I have been really proud to witness on a number of occasions now how effectively our volunteers and staff ensure they are objective when representing the views of Healthwatch Cornwall with members of the public.

So it’s been a great start, we have lots to do with the development of Cornwall’s Shaping our Future and it is looking like it’s going to be a very busy summer. But how happy I am to be back in Cornwall where I spent my early working years – a very long time ago.