Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

43. Evidence submitted by Herefordshire County Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (PPI 86)

1.   What is the purpose of patient and public (P+P) involvement?

    —    To gather P+P views and expertise and then respond, in order to better mould services to actual needs.

    —    To increase P+P involvement and thence ownership in health services so that P+P genuinely feel they can influence them and therefore be more satisfied with them.

    —    To enable effective exchange of ideas—including from providers to P+P—to increase mutual understanding.

2.   What form of P+P involvement is desirable, practical and offers good value for money?

    —    Make best use of existing P+P involvement—a number of committed and knowledgeable people currently volunteer their time and energies, and these must be nurtured.

    —    Broader involvement is desirable—to include people from Herefordshire's "hard-to-reach" populations such as young people, ethnic minorities (including Travellers and migrant workers), people with disabilities (including physical and learning).

    —    A small amount of extra funding—to be routed through the Health Scrutiny Committee—would allow effective and innovative methods of involvement, such as recruitment of "peer" groups to research issues/preferences with their fellows eg young people making a film about health issues such as counselling or sexual health or substance abuse; or people with disabilities researching care home provision as "dignity champions"; or the use of participatory methodology such as "appreciative enquiry" workshops with stakeholder groups on particular health issues.

3.   Why are existing systems for P+P involvement being reformed after only three years?

    —    Because they were put together in a rush, with little foresight. No-one should be surprised that there have been disappointing outcomes. Some PPIFs—such as our own PCT Forum—have performed well, but this is despite the poor planning that went into designing them nationally.

4.   How should LINks be designed

    —    LINks should be an effective extension of the health scrutiny function. If there is not integration between these, LINks will not be any more effective than current PPIFs.

    —    LINks must work through the local authority and the scrutiny committee.

    —    LINks should be empowered by statute to visit NHS and independent health care premises, with the usual provisos.

    —    LINks should have at least one member from each designated group of service users and potential service users eg young people, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, older people, etc.

Councillor Stuart Thomas

Chair, Herefordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee

January 2007

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