Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

114. Evidence submitted by Judie Collins (PPI 10)

  I have been a PPI Forum member for the last two years and would like to make the following comments relevant to your inquiry.

  I am a member of a PCT Forum which obviously as the PCT is a commissioner and provider links to other local NHS institutions. We have two organisations looking after us, our Forum Support organisation and CPPIH. I have experience of meeting other forum members from across the country. They suggest to me that the experience of Forum members varies according to how efficient and helpful their FSOs are. We are on our second FSO and when we are surveyed about their support for us we have always been highly critical. We have also made extensive efforts to go to CPPIH with our concerns without success.

  Some PPI Forums are happy to concentrate on individual health issues particularly in hospitals like MRSA, Paytalk etc. CPPIH's publicity seems to reflect this. However we have spent the last two years fighting what we consider to be major injustices and failures to provide a good health service for the residents of our area.

Three Examples

  Two years ago shortly before Christmas one of our local hospitals was closed over night citing safety grounds. It was proposed to move elderly dementia patients to a remote part of our mental health care trusts's territory. We fought with the relatives and despite initial denials a facility was eventually found close at hand where they are now close to home.

  18 months ago our breast cancer service was closed again over night. Since then an inquiry has been continuously delayed without proper explanations. The interim service is proving inconvenient and has been plagued with administrative problems. Our provider, commissioner and the SHA have run rings both round us and our OSC and continue to do so.

  Two rehab wards were closed without consultation and as our patience had by then run out we backed the community in going to a successful judicial review. We are at the start of a public consultation which is proving problematical and despite seeking advice from all the above organisations plus the Health Commission plus the Independent Reconfiguration Panel no one at any time has been able to explain to us where we can turn for help. Even the advice from the Secretary of State has conflicted with what we have been told locally.

  We have had no problems in getting access to the most senior officers at our Health Trusts and are on most committees and project boards which we understand is quite uncommon. We do however face a constant changing of senior officers so the ones who left can be blamed for whatever has gone wrong. Also our PCT and Health Trust don't get on. Neither get on with our Mental Health Care Trust. Our council don't get on with our health trusts and social services never turn up to health committees or boards they are on so joined up working proves impossible. We have found our OSC which has been reconstituted several times refuses to face up to its challenges and our mentoring of disadvantaged groups elsewhere leads us to believe that OSCs just don't have the grasp of legislation to do their job properly. The thought that councils might have some power over us in LINKS fills every forum member I have spoken to with horror.

  In the Greater Manchester area we have been deluged with public consultations and again we are frustrated because they don't reach the public, the cabinet code of practice is not adhered to and the public who we represent is left with the distinct impression that the results are fixed.

  Will the situation be improved by dismembering PPI Forums. Given how long it has taken our forum to get to a stage where we feel we have earned the respect of NHS management I don't think so. The Forums work well. it is the support for them which is inefficient and costly. Firm up the Forums powers and give them adequate support.

Judie Collins

January 2007

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