Although people need to be nominated by a statutory body (local authority or NHS) or a local voluntary group, you can still contact your local CHC chief officer as an individual and apply for membership. No formal qualifications are needed but you should live or work in the district and have a genuine concern for health issues. Members are expected to meet a workload which includes full council meetings every one to two months, committees and working groups looking at specific aspects of care such as mental health or maternity services, and site visits and investigations. Members are appointed for four year periods of office, with half the membership subject to reappointment every two years. Apart from out of pocket expenses, CHC membership is wholly voluntary and unpaid.
The Association of Community Health Councils of England and Wales (ACHCEW) exists to represent CHC interests nationally and to act as a forum for member CHCs. ACHCEW provides an information service to its members and published a regular newsletter and briefing papers. ACHCEW also holds seminars on topics of concern to CHCs and initiates occasional training events and publicity exercises. Similar bodies exist in Northern Ireland and Scotland (see below for addresses).
- Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales, 30 Drayton Park, London N5 1PB Tel:0171 609 8405.
- Association of District Committees for the Health and Personal Social Services, 27 Adelaide Street, Belfast, BT2 8FH.
- Scottish Association of Health Councils, 18 Alva Street, Edinburgh EH2 4QG Tel: 0131 220 4101.
- Details of individual CHCs can be found in the phone book under 'Community Health Council' (England and Wales), 'Local Health Councils' (Scotland) and 'Health & Social Services Councils' (Northern Ireland).