Select Committee on Health Written Evidence


74. Evidence submitted by Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust PPI Forum (PPI 46)

What is the purpose of patient and public involvement?

  To ensure that the NHS is patient-centred. Specifically, to determine that existing conditions and future developments are influenced by the concerns and wishes of patients and the public.

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

  Ideally, patient and public involvement should represent the whole community, but in practice, volunteers tend to be those who are free to attend meetings and conduct inspections during working hours. We believe this is acceptable, on the condition that the volunteers report regularly to the public and act on issues presented to them by patients and the public. Unpaid volunteers offer the best value for money, but it would help to curb expenditure if each group of volunteers were allocated a fixed budget to cover expenses, such as travel and parking costs.

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

  We assume that Government believes the current arrangements to be unsatisfactory. This is not our view, or our experience.

  How should LINks be designed, including:

    —  Remit and level of independence.

    —  Membership and appointments.

    —  Funding and support.

    —  Area of focus.

    —  Statutory powers.

    —  Relations with local health Trusts.

    —  National coordination.

  We believe there are compelling reasons why LINks should mirror the remit and level of independence currently awarded to PPI Forums. Unless members of LINks are truly independent of party politics and NHS allegiances, the value of their contribution will be biased. We believe that the following should be maintained:

    —  Statutory rights for information within 20 working days.

    —  Powers of entry to NHS premises.

    —  Powers to monitor and inspect premises where NHS patients are treated.

    —  Independence.

    —  Specialist groups as at present, eg Acute Trusts, Ambulance, Mental Health etc.. Individuals cannot be expected to cover the whole range of NHS services; people are more effective if they have the opportunity to learn how a particular aspect of the NHS functions.

    —  Appointment of individuals should continue to be strictly regulated, eg CRB clearance.

  How should LINks relate to and avoid overlap with:

    —  Local Authority structures including Overview and Scrutiny Committees.

    —  Foundation Trust boards and Members Councils.

    —  Inspectorates including the Healthcare Commission.

    —  Formal and informal complaints procedures.

  1.  Both LINks and Overview and Scrutiny Committees should provide each other with quarterly reports on activities.

  2.  Foundation Trust boards and Members Councils should be required to have one member who is also a member of LINks. This should not preclude the appointment of additional LINks members if the body concerned wishes to make such appointments.

  3.  There should be a strong relationship between LINks and the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH). As a Forum, we would prefer any new arrangement to be managed by the existing CPPIH.

  4.  Subject to issues of patient confidentiality, the NHS should be required to submit reports on complaints to the relevant LINks.

In what circumstances should wider public consultation be carried out and what form should this take?

  We believe sufficient public consultation has taken place, and we fear that Forum members will lose commitment and enthusiasm unless the new arrangements are agreed upon soon.

  Finally, we would like to contribute the following:

    (a)  Patient Forums have made a valuable contribution to the NHS since they were formed (see CPPIH Annual Report 2005-2006: National Summary).

    (b)  Hospital Trusts are now required to listen to the views of the public on health issues.

  This is progress, and it is vital that any new arrangement provides for a continuation of existing good work. The NHS, by legislation, must be required to co-operate with LINks and demonstrate in their submission to the Annual Health Check that they have responded positively to comments/recommendations made by the public.

Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust PPI Forum

January 2007





 
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Prepared 6 February 2007