The report said that Local Involvement Networks (LINks), which aim to give local people a say in how health and social care services are provided in their communities, need more work to ensure they are effective and good value for taxpayers’ money.
It identified significant variation in the performance and effectiveness between LINks. The report showed that LINks activity has led to an estimated 440 service changes and 500 service reviews, but 40% reported that they had not inspired any service review or change.
It comes as the government's response to the NHS White Paper consultation, outlined plans to build on the current system of LINks with the introduction of independent Local HealthWatch organisations.
Health Minister Simon Burns said the Local HealthWatch organisations will be ‘more effective’.
He said: ‘The work of so many LINks volunteers shows what a strong appetite there is for people to get involved with health and social care in our local communities. This enthusiasm is something that can grow and develop with the introduction of more effective local HealthWatch organisations.
‘Healthwatch will usher in a new generation of patient champions with the resources and powers to support the needs of their local communities.'