Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

110. Evidence submitted by Jennifer Beesley (PPI 41)

  I joined the local PPIF be able to use my many years of knowledge in health for the benefit of ALL. This summary is of my experience of the PPIF and why I believe is not fit for purpose and most certainly does not give best value. The most important role of the PPIF is to represent the views of the local population, but do they do this?

  The annual budget of £38 million for PPIF is a huge amount of money and there must be a question on its effectiveness to give the public a voice when FSOs run the organisation with their own agendas.

  CHCs were generally known to the public, but after three years still there is a vast majority of the public who still have never heard of PPIF—WHY!

  PPIF meetings should all be held in public, and encourage public participation; not closed meetings and refusing public questions. It is important to listen to the public in different arenas to establish and identify their concerns enabling the forum to carry out surveys/work etc.

  The PPIF membership must be from all walks of life, many may not want to fully participate but they should not be made to feel second best. Disabled people need a great deal of support to enable them to participate and that should be forthcoming, not only by other members but the FSO as well.

  The time delay to process new members is unacceptable. The CPPIH seem to drag their feet, and therefore people then lose interest.

  CPPIH need to be abolished now. I have experienced nothing but complacency. The CPPIH surveys requesting comments on FSOs from your forum are ignored, and complaint are never satisfactorily responded too. The CPPIH has the powers to enable them to run a superb organisation, but no one seems to have the ability to ACT. What has gone wrong! This organisation could have been a very great asset in training, support etc, but always seems top heavy with management.

  Section 11 is a very great asset for forums to carry out surveys and speak to the public about issues, while visiting NHS establishments, which are important to them. The independence of forums and their members have enabled them to work as "critical friends" with PCTs.

  On many occasions PPIFs have spoken to PCT Chief Executive and drawn their attention to public concerns, which they have then been addressed for the benefit of many. (eg: GUM Clinic)

  Great Yarmouth PPIF forum embarked on a GP survey to establish how well the public could access appointments. With NO help from our support organization we analysed 687 questionnaires and received 1,477 volunteered specific comments. Published April 2006.

  Each PPIF Annual Report is something which should show the public what has been achieved during the year on their behalf, but do they?

  Our members have been refused access to examine their forum yearly expenditure relating to the support agency (to ensure best value) due to contractual confidentiality.

  The Annual report template is something worth looking at. Copies of all annual reports are sent to the local SHA. Perhaps comments from them on the composition and contents would give the committee some ideas of forums work and best value.

East of England SHA comprises of 69 PPI forums—why so many?

  The new reconfiguration of PCTs has brought a greater role on PPIFs. The smaller and some times more active PPIFs have been swallowed up, and in some cases members have left. Leaving some areas only represented by one PPIF member. Was this destruction of smaller PPIF really necessary?

  Up until Links, the CPPIH and PPIF will have been independent organisations. There can be question of conflict of interest with members dual NHS roles which the act is very specific on, but the CPPIH lacks the ability to carry out their statutory duty is to ensure members are as independent as their organisations. Members of any public body must remember The Nolan Report on conflict of interest and the public perception, and in turn the CPPIH should also fulfil its statutory duty.

  LINKS can be a wonderful way of involving the public but allowing CC to control the budget without ring fencing is ludicrous. They will, as always, top slice the budget—and further more,how can they scrutinise some thing they are controlling?

  The County Council OVS committee locally has a tendency to have working parties but they never seem to finish their work! When PPIF take serious concerns on bed closures to them, yet another working party is set up and the finding never come back to the OVS committee. Then its all to late, a year on.


  During the time I was a member and a Chairman of a PPIF, I found the biggest battle was dealing with the FSO who never wanted anything to be open & transparent. The CPPIH were supportive on many occasions but were often inconsistent with advice. Perhaps with LINKS it may be better overall, but so far I am not convinced that the public want to get sufficiently involved in the work that is required.

  The lack of Audit of such a large quango is concerning and to restructure it within three years is, at first impressions, irresponsible But is it?

  After being part of this organisation and seeing its ways of operation and organisation I would say: no there is a better way, but perhaps not quite so drastic.

  The future of PPIF or Links should be far more public friendly. Meetings should not be at 9 am in a morning to suit the Chairman but at different times enabling people who work to attend.

  Will Links make the change that the government wants, and will there be sufficient new members? I very much doubt this, as apathy brings health to its lowest ebb.

  The PPIF/Links, or what ever it may be, must look to the future with openness and optimism for successful working with the public, and not allow weak support organisations to destroy them.

Jennifer Beesley

6 January 2007

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