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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4737
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1974-2003
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.75 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Waltham Forest Community Health Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

Community Health Councils were established in England and Wales in 1974 "to represent the interests in the health service of the public in its district" (National Health Service Reorganisation Act, 1973). Often referred to as 'the patient’s voice in the NHS', each Community Health Council (CHC) served the public and patients in its local area by representing their interests to National Health Service (NHS) authorities and by monitoring the provision of health services to their communities.

CHCs were independent statutory bodies with certain legal powers. CHCs were entitled to receive information about local health services, to be consulted about changes to health service provision, and to carry out monitoring visits to NHS facilities. They also had the power to refer decisions about proposed closures of NHS facilities to the Secretary of State for Health. For this reason, CHCs were sometimes known as the ‘watchdogs’ of the NHS. The co-ordinated monitoring of waiting times in Accident and Emergency departments led to ‘Casualty Watch’ which gained national press coverage. Locally, many CHCs represented patients’ views by campaigning for improved quality of care and better access to NHS services, and by responding to local issues such as proposed hospital closures.

Each CHC had around 20 voluntary members from the local area. Half were appointed the local authority, a third were elected from voluntary bodies and the remainder were appointed by the Secretary of State for Health. Members met every month to six weeks and meetings were usually open to the general public. Guest speakers or guest attendees were often invited, particularly when a specific topic or issue was under discussion.

All CHCs employed a small number of paid office staff and some had shop-front offices, often on the high street, where members of the public could go for advice and information about local NHS services. CHCs published leaflets and guidance on a wide variety of topics from ‘how to find a GP’ to ‘how to make a complaint’.

Within the guiding principles and statutory duties of the legislation, CHCs developed organically in response to the needs of the communities they served and for this reason considerable variation can be found in the records of different CHCs.

Waltham Forest Community Health Council met for the first time in July 1974 and was originally called West Roding Community Health Council. It catered to the West Roding District of The Redbridge and Waltham Forest Area Health Authority which covered Waltham Forest and part of Redbridge to the West of the River Roding. In 1979 the CHC changed its name from West Roding to Waltham Forest "in order to more closely identify with the community we represent" (Annual Report, 1978-1979). Its stated functions were "first, to provide information, advice and advocacy to health service users, and secondly, to influence the nature of health care provision and monitor its provision on behalf of the local population" (1993/1994 Work Programme).

Community Health Councils in England were abolished in 2003 as part of the ‘NHS Plan (2000)’. The last meeting of Waltham Forest CHC was held in November 2003.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Waltham Forest Community Health Council (CHC) (1974 - 2003) including Minutes (1974 - 2003), Annual Reports (1975 - 2003), Visit Reports (1998 - 2003), Consultation Responses (1991 - 2003) and Publications (1977 - 2003).

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged in five series, as follows:
LMA/4737/01: Minutes
LMA/4737/02: Annual reports
LMA/4737/03: Visit reports
LMA/4737/04: Consultation responses
LMA/4737/05: Publications

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in 2004.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Added June 2018.

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