Portsmouth health support group vow to carry on despite parent company going bust

WE ARE still here and working for our community.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 8:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 8:51 am
The Healthwatch Portsmouth board in 2017 with vice chair Roger Batterbury pictured second from left

Picture: Sarah Standing (170467-5672)
The Healthwatch Portsmouth board in 2017 with vice chair Roger Batterbury pictured second from left Picture: Sarah Standing (170467-5672)

That is the message from Healthwatch Portsmouth after its parent company Learning Links, which is also based in Portsmouth, went into liquidation last week.

The organisation, which aims to ensure the public have their say on health services and support on issues, is determined to carry on despite the setback which saw three full-time members of staff lose their jobs.

Vice-chairman Roger Batterbury told The News: ‘It was all very sudden. The board feels extremely sorry for our employees who have been left jobless but we are still having our meetings and giving support to people because this is not the end. We do see the light at the end of the tunnel.’

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Mr Batterbury added he hoped it was ‘weeks and not months’ before a new provider was found to help run the services.

A Healthwatch Portsmouth statement read: ‘Regrettably Healthwatch Portsmouth is currently unavailable following the liquidation of hosting organisation Learning Links (Southern). Portsmouth City Council is looking at continued provision of Healthwatch as a priority.

‘If clients of the Independent Health Advocacy Complaints Service provided by Healthwatch have any questions, including around data protection, they can contact the helpdesk on 023 9282 2251 or email [email protected]

Mr Batterbury added: ‘The statement is somewhat misleading as we are not unavailable, so we just hope the city council can help us to get fully back on our feet soon. We are soldiering on.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has since written a letter to city council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, asking him to ensure the service is safeguarded by the council.

Mr Morgan wrote: ‘I am deeply concerned to learn that Healthwatch Portsmouth is currently unavailable for those with an interest in, or use, health and social care services in our city.

‘Whilst I understand that this may be due to the unfortunate liquidation of the hosting organisation Learning Links (Southern), the local authority has a statutory duty to ensure a service is provided.’

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘The council funds Healthwatch because we have to. Learning Links have very kindly hosted them for a while and now we will have to find someone new to do that.’

Learning Links employees were told last Wednesday that the charity, which supports hundreds of families, had gone into liquidation and their last working day would be Friday.

The News attempted to contact Learning Links.