Reference & Engagement Group – Terms of Reference

1. Introduction
The Reference & Engagement Group (REG) is the formal structure through which Healthwatch Worcestershire can engage with Worcestershire’s voluntary and community sector organisations with an interest in health and/or social care, and with ‘experts by experience’ in health and social care matters.

One of the ways in which Healthwatch Worcestershire will meet its statutory responsibility to consider the views of volunteers and lay persons is through the Reference & Engagement Group membership.

2. Membership of the Reference & Engagement Group

2.1 Membership of the Group will be open to any organisation within the voluntary & community sector that can demonstrate it has in its objectives an interest in health and social care services that are commissioned or provided for the public of Worcestershire.

2.2 Membership of the Group is not open to the statutory sector commissioners/providers or private sector providers, although such organisations may be invited to attend Group meetings if it is in the interests of the business of the meeting that they should be in attendance.

2.3 Membership of the Group will be extended to ‘Experts by Experience’ at the invitation of the Group.

2.4 Membership will be by way of application. Approval of applications will rest with the Directors of Healthwatch Worcestershire taking into account the views of Members Co-opted to the
Public Board Meeting.

3. The Role of the Reference & Engagement Group

3.1 The Reference & Engagement Group will perform the following functions:
• To provide information to Healthwatch Worcestershire including patient,
service users and carers’ experiences of health and social care services
commissioned and provided for the public of Worcestershire.
• To provide advice to Healthwatch Worcestershire on its operational business
activities.
• To provide assurance to Healthwatch Worcestershire on its operational
business activities.
• To extend the reach of Healthwatch Worcestershire:
   – by acting as a conduit for information between Healthwatch Worcestershire and the membership/contact base of individual organisations.
   – in holding commissioners and providers to account by reporting back to Healthwatch Worcestershire.
   – by being a champion for Healthwatch Worcestershire.

4. Governance Arrangements for the Reference & Engagement Group:

4.1 Healthwatch Worcestershire is a company limited by guarantee and regulated by the Companies Act. Therefore whilst the Directors are committed to ensuring volunteer and lay person input to their decision making they are responsible for all matters relating to the undertakings of Healthwatch Worcestershire, and this is reflected in arrangements for the governance of Reference & Engagement Group.

4.1.1 Up to six members of the Reference and Engagement Group will be appointed as Members Co-opted to the Public Board Meeting by the Directors of Healthwatch Worcestershire, who in doing so will take into account the views of the members of the Group. Members will be co-opted who can act as a voice for the Reference and Engagement Group.

4.1.2 Membership of Healthwatch Worcestershire will be open, on application, to members of the Reference & Engagement Group (one vote per organisation).

4.1.3 Members of the Reference & Engagement Group will be required to declare any conflicts of interest, and specifically declare any publicly funded health and/or social care services that the organisation they represent provides for the public of Worcestershire.

4.1.4 Healthwatch Worcestershire’s resources to support the administration of the Reference & Engagement Group are limited and this will need to be reflected in the way in which the Reference & Engagement Group undertakes its business

4.1.5 Whilst Healthwatch Worcestershire will reimburse the reasonable costs of ‘patient/service users by experience’ it anticipates that the costs of representatives of organisations will normally be met by the organisations they represent.

4.1.6 Healthwatch Worcestershire’s values associated with evidence based decision making, independence and transparency except in circumstances where there is a need to maintain patient/service user confidentiality will apply to the business of the Reference & Engagement Group, as will its complaints procedure.

4.1.9 Members must have regard to the legislation which seeks to prevent a Local Healthwatch from:
• Aligning itself to a particular party or political body
• Being set up or run with a main purpose of achieving particular policy changes or changes to the law, and
• Making political activities its main activity

REVIEW BY: October 2022