Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

99. Evidence submitted by University College London Hospital Foundation Trust PPI Forum (PPI 75)


  What exactly was the brief from government? Was this just a window dressing exercise? If so it was an astonishing waste of the best part of £90 million of public money spent on a badly thought out administrative design. Far too many civil servants were employed to support and facilitate voluntary workers, but in many cases they treated these people with contempt, patronised them, refused them cooperation, made official complaints which took months to resolve, and generally tried to tie up Forum members in their red tape and lengthy time wasting procedures.

  Why were there two groups of civil servants—those who worked for the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement, and the FSOs—Forum Support Organisations, when one properly organised group could have done whatever might have been required...This has wasted more time and resources unnecessarily than anything else to do with PPIFs. Selective pieces of information would be sent from CPPIH directly, but the rest sent on to FSOs and then on again to Forum members—wasting time and postage.

  Right at the beginning of the UCLH PPI Forum, exactly three years ago, we asked for leaflets to be distributed throughout local libraries, doctors surgeries, all community centres, (including those of other nationalities). This has never been done. This has deprived the public of knowing of the Forums' existence, certainly in Camden with a large mixed community. When Meetings in Public have been held, Forum members have had to distribute leaflets/posters to these places, because the public are unaware of the work we do, attendances have been poor.

  The UCLH PPI Forum has had additional problems achieving cooperation from the Trust. This status was not yet confirmed when we began working with them, but they were already planning their own Members' Council, which they feel more comfortable with, and it has been a huge uphill struggle getting any information of any hospital initiatives, let alone invitations to be involved, other than the barest minimum. One has even been given only 24 hours notice to attend PEAT (Patient Environment Action Team) inspections, which are certainly planned by the Trust team some weeks/months in advance. It was made very plain from the beginning that we were considered completely unnecessary to the well being of patients/public in relation to the seven hospitals in the UBLH Trust.

  In spite of this, we have made every effort not to tread on toes, but to learn everything possible, and to be helpful to staff as well as the patients.We have sent copies of reports to the Trust, indeed we have done a great deal of work for them, which was not undertaken by their Members' Council.

  We are indeed a "critical friend", in a way that no other independent body exists, and should be allowed to make independent inspections as before under any new system/initiative chosen.

  We should also be allowed to see budgets and accounts. According to the National Audit Office this is correct but CPPIH have continued to refuse requests.

  Transparency does not operate, the tax paying public deserves better, but if we PPIFs are not consulted, (and not just those Forum members loyal first to the civil servants) no system will be effective, which can only reflect badly on the government who put it in place.

Veronica Brinton

University College London Hospital Foundation Trust PPI Forum

4 January 2007

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