Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

63. Evidence submitted by the National Pensioners Convention (PPI 25)

What is the purpose of patient and public involvement?

  1.  As the NHS is becoming increasingly patient led, it is essential that the community and users of the service should be able to make a major contribution in monitoring changes. Their contribution must be effective and produce results and not simply be used to pay lip service to the idea of patient and public involvement. It is also crucial that the effects on patient care of changes in service provision are monitored.

  2.  Older people may be particularly vulnerable to changes in the services provided, especially where small hospitals and wards for the elderly mentally ill may be closed. It is most important therefore that patients and the public should have real influence on the way that the NHS is managed locally.

What form of patient and public involvement is desirable, practical and offers good value for money?

  3.  People who have been involved in Patient Forums and the much missed Community Health Councils have a great deal of expertise in monitoring change in the NHS, exposing faults and bringing about improvements. We need a system where those involved in monitoring changes have a right to inspect services used by the public, particularly in primary and secondary care. The system should be properly funded and enable monitors to express their personal views on local health issues, independent of the NHS itself. Voluntary organisations with a wide knowledge of the local community may also provide valuable expertise.

Why are existing systems for patient and public involvement being reformed after only three years?

  4.  The NPC still finds it difficult to understand why Community Health Councils were abolished and the successor body, the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, has also had to go.

  5.  The arms length review of 2004 recommended that patient forums were to be made the cornerstone of the new arrangements enabling patients and the public to influence local health services. Now they, too, are to be closed down. As the CPPIH was set up in January 2003, the decision to abolish it must have been made after little more than a year of operation.

  6.  The NPC believes that patient forums could have been improved to provide better patient and public involvement, which would have avoided the inevitable disruption of the work of the existing paid and voluntary staff. Older people in particular simply do not know how they can have an impact on local health services, either when service changes are proposed or when they become aware of faults in the present system.

  7.  We note that there will be no early end to this uncertainty, when the proposed new arrangements will receive the necessary legislation only when Parliamentary time allows.

  8.  The NPC's panel of expert health advisers would be available to give further detailed oral evidence to the committee should they wish.

National Pensioners Convention

January 2007

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2007
Prepared 6 February 2007