Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

16. Evidence submitted by the Civil Service Pensioners' Alliance (PPI 34)

  1.  We are a campaigning organisation, which represents Civil Service pensioners. We are an independent, non-party political organisation with an elected Executive Council and an annual policy-making conference. We have about 65,000 members, who are retired from every Civil Service department, grade and location, and our income is derived from membership subscriptions. We receive no financial help from outside bodies. We are affiliated to many pensioner organisations, such as the National Pensioners' Convention and Age Concern and, under their umbrella, we campaign on behalf of pensioners at large. We have about 100 local Groups throughout the UK who are in regular contact with pensioners. Therefore we are well placed to represent pensioners" concerns. For the avoidance of doubt, we do not represent pensioners previously employed in the National Health Service.

  2.  We have previously welcomed the establishment of the Commission for Public and Patient Involvement in Health and also the Forums which have been established under its remit, involving interaction with Primary Care and Hospital Trusts at a local level. One of the strengths of the Forums has been their independence from the Statutory Bodies. They have also avoided the party political connotations, which exist within the local authorities. This independence has enabled them to initiate enquiries and surveys into the provision of services and, where appropriate, to seek changes from the position of authority which independence brings. A further beneficial feature of the existing Forums has been the political neutrality of the appointments and the wide age range of those appointed. We have welcomed the appointment of older people to the Forums, which has enabled them to understand the particular needs of older people who are dependent upon National Health Service provision.

  3.  Whilst we regret the demise of these existing bodies, we consider that the proposal to establish Local Involvement Networks can serve as an equally effective forum. We also welcome the proposal to include Social Care as well as Health issues. However, there should not be any reduction in the level of independence, nor should any age restrictions be placed upon appointments to the new bodies. It is important that the views and needs of older people should continue to be fully represented.

  4.  It is our view that the existing statutory powers should continue, with right of access to NHS premises to conduct inspections and investigations. These powers should be extended to enable inspections to take place in premises where the NHS contract services from voluntary organisations or commercial companies and to those providing residential social care. The re-organisation should be used as an opportunity to extend the provision of Public and Patient Involvement in the NHS and social care, rather than constrict it.

  5.  In short, the public should continue to have a say in what they require from the NHS and there should be provision to encourage the involvement of older people at every level and to consider their particular needs.

  6.  I hope that this submission is sufficiently clear but, should the Committee need any further explanation, we would, of course, be pleased to supply it either in writing or orally at a committee hearing.

John Amos

Deputy General Secretary

Civil Service Pensioners' Alliance

8 January 2007

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