AN independent consumer organisation created to get public opinion on health and social care issues will be run by Dudley Council for Voluntary Service (DCVS).

Dudley Council has appointed DCVS to operate Healthwatch Dudley, a government funded independent organisation that will provide information and advice to help people access and make choices about services.

The new watchdog group will also be able to influence policy, planning, commissioning and delivery of health and social care services and will be able to make recommendations to the Care Quality Commission to carry out investigations if necessary.

Andy Gray, chief executive of DCVS, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this contract and look forward to working with the people of Dudley to shape their healthcare services.

“Healthwatch Dudley will be an independent customer champion, providing a stronger voice for local people and communities to influence local health and social care services in Dudley.

“We are looking forward to communicating further about how people can get involved.”

The council was required to appoint an organisation by April 2013 to run Healthwatch Dudley, which will be able to recruit volunteers and employ its own staff.

Councillor Zafar Islam, Dudley’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “The formation of Healthwatch Dudley is an important step in getting people of all ages involved in their local health and social care services.

“It will strengthen the voice of patients and increase accountability. We are confident we have selected the best partner to run the new organisation and look forward to working with DCVS.”

A representative of Dudley Healthwatch will sit on Dudley health and wellbeing board to ensure the public and patient voice is part of strategic decision-making across local NHS services, adult social care and health improvement.