Select Committee on Health Written Evidence


113. Evidence submitted by Malcolm Budd (PPI 84)

  As a civil engineer and cave explorer of 65 years, the contribution I offer comes out of an especial interest in mental health from 30 years of manic depression and over a decade of recovery since being "sectioned" and staying in hospital for some three months in 1993. I am now fully recovered including no longer in need of medication and enabled to regain my professional work albeit in a different field.

  This includes teaching in mental health at the University of York, assisting in the development of a new £10m mental health facility in Airedale in West Yorkshire. I am a Director and Trustee of the Cellar Project , a mental health charity providing workshops' experience to aid regaining personal and social confidence and skills for dealing dealing with serious mental ill health problems. I have been a member of the Bradford and Airedale Primary and Bradford District Care Trusts Patient and Public Involvement in Health Forums since their inception. I offer as a freelance my "Independence of Mind" Workshop for which I attach the guidelines.

  My experiences in mental health, heavy civil engineering and cave exploration and rescues all lead to the conclusion that the future of the National Health Service, its patient and patients has been, and will be well served by the PPI Forums as presently constituted. In an era when regretably too much power and attention is given to management and its structures, the original intention and decision of Parliament to pass the 2001 Act which instigated the PPI Forums has proved sound, with the possible exception, now the Forums are established, of now reducing the size and budget of the Commission and its offices, as its main original task has been achieved. With the latter I feel the evidence shows the Forums operate and act most in the interest of the whole and the local health care needs if they retain their existing structure of unpaid and unelected volunteers, low costs and freer association between members. The Forums, without the constraints of a committee structure, act together to look at the evidence and agree a course of action. Thus retaining intact the beneficial effects of the experiences and knowledge of the individual members, especially in mental health where the varyng detailk and nuances of the individual are critical to the individual's improvement. And the Forums and their activities fit well into the framework of the professional Healthcare Commission and the democratically elected Oversee and Scrutiny Committees within Local Authorities.

  My experiences and personal "success" at recovery have lead me to the view that mental ill health and its nature is much misunderstood partly out of the legacy of it the practices and terminology of physical medicine and the approach of the "pseudo-science" of psychiatry. The serious doubts about much present practice is reflected in my Forum work and view that the Forums' essentially democratic, "bottom up" is an important feature and has critical effects in dealing with "top down" management methods and structures of the Trusts when representing patients and public in our local communities.

  I feel it is particularly important that the Forums are not committees and are not dependent on and limited by, Trust structures or geography. They are thereby enabled to take a broader and more community view rather than be constrained within the Government and Trust policies' envelopes. The powers parliament gave the Forums are an important element in our democracy both national and local. Whereas the present Governments new proposals, not yet discussed or approved by Parliament, are much narrower and closer to the existing public bodies and the effects of their management inclined structures. It seems to me the trust Parliament placed in the volunteer Forum members has been well rewarded. So it is especially perverse after only three years, when they have just become established and effective, to abandon them and their structures and methods. To bring about the faulted changes proposed before the Forums have completed the job they were asked to do will only further disconcert and dismay Forum members, patients and public alike.

  I acknowledge there is need for change but it seems to me change has become a mere fashion at a time when the NHS and our society has a need for continuity and greater recognition of the need for the experienced, knowledgeable and skilled rather than the near obsession with management and monetary views and methods.

  It has been my experience by choosing appropriate staff and supporting them with trust and fitting resources and minimal management interference the best outcomes can be obtained. I do wonder what was the point, post War, in ensuring a well educated, informed and healthy population if we then do not offer them the co-operation and trust they have earned and deserve. This approach is especially fitting and beneficial when applied to the PPI Forums and their members.

  I earnestly ask the this Select Committee to reject the Government's proposals and support the continuing practical and valuable work the PPI Forums are doing to improve the NHS and offer the wider public direct and unbiased ways of making its views and needs known.

Malcolm Budd

9 January 2007





 
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