Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

49. Evidence submitted by Kingston PCT Forum (PPI 80)


  To ensure that patients and public (better just as public) have a say in health provision in their local area, bearing in mind that much secondary and tertiary and mental health care may involve bodies outside the area of the LINK.


  Not possible to say unless a measure for VFM is created. Presumably unpaid (and substantially retired??) groups commenting on health and social care are VFM.


  Total independence. Remit (in theory) to represent the views of the people of the area in respect of health and social services.


  This is a very grey area. In order prevent interest groups "taking over" "independent" members should be a majority. Very unclear as to which "voluntary organizations" should be members—no definition of "membership". Eg British Heart Foundation is a national body with, it is assumed Trustees but, like others, has local outlets. Who would "represent" it? Presumably not paid officials but, if not, who? The local area will hold a number of people who are not represented by any local body but who have relevant views and belong to national bodies.

  Initial appointments will be by Host Organizations, without Local Authority involvement (and, although they are likely to be local voluntary organizations there would seem to be a conflict of interest if they seek to be members as well) and thereafter by the LINK. There seems to be a need (and talking about "local arrangements" will not do) for a permanent central LINKs "executive" in each area. Given what the LINK is expected to do and the potential size of its permanent and temporary membership it seems as if a few of this group will need an honorarium.


  It is disappointing that the funding will not be ring fenced.


  It is likely that the focus will be on hospitals and PCTs and omit other areas as less visible


  This seems essential. Local bodies cannot (or if they do, there will be enormous overlap) run training courses, obtain CAB checks etc.


  It is understood that there are about 100 bodies that already have powers to inspect "Health" so there will be a substantial overlap. It seems unlikely that OSCs will confine themselves, as suggested, to matters of commissioning.

  It seems likely that patient and publics are more likely to complain rather than praise. LINKs could look only at general areas and would have to refer complainants to existing procedures, using information from them to guide workplans.


  Personal experience shows that Trusts carry out substantial public consultation—with the main groups attending being NHS staff and patients with specific interests—and the totals being very small. On the whole it seems that Forums have not been successful, despite best efforts, in rousing public interest and it is not clear how LINKs will be more successful, other than involving interest groups which do not represent "the public" (potential patients) though they may have good contact with current patients. This does not necessarily reflect on the Forums—Local Elections indicate that public interest, other than in high profile cases, is difficult to engage.

Gareth Jones

Chair, Kingston PCT Forum and also on behalf of Kingston Hospital Trust Forum.

January 2007

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