Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

76. Evidence submitted by Oxford and Bucks Area of South Central Ambulance Service PPI Forum (PPI 135)

Future of Patient & Public Involvement and LINks with particular reference to Ambulance Patients Forums

  I am Eileen Young—Chairman of the Oxford & Bucks Area of South Central Ambulance Service Patient & Public Involvement Forum.

  1.  It is outrageous that PPI Forums should be abolished after only two years and that the Government has been aided/abetted in this by collusion with the "Panel of Experts" chaired by Harry Cayton in Spring 2006 which concluded that Patient Forums had been a failure. So, on 12 July 2006 the DoH publishes the ridiculous, airy-fairy document—A Stronger Local Voice—for information & comment only. Not a consultation! This was not intended to be circulated to PPIFs, CPPIH or indeed, Local Authority OSCs for Health.

  2.  LINks? What on earth are they? Obviously someone at the DoH came up with this acronym and the Department now hopes someone—will tell them how to design a system around it. Now the Government has pulled a really fast one. Need to legislate to get rid of CPPIH & PPIFs? Simple—slip it into the good old Local Government (& Public Involvement in Health) Bill 2006-07. First reading before Christmas, 2nd one next week; well on its way already.

  3.  Anyway, I attended yet another DHN event this week on 9 January where Dr Richard Taylor MP gave an excellent exposition as to why those two "weaselly" clauses in the Bill—to abolish PPIH & set up the framework for development of a LINks system (?)—will not be opposed because the rest of the Bill is uncontroversial.

  4.  We members of the South Central Ambulance Service Patients & Public Involvement Forum are having a hard time trying to work out how on earth we can relate to our Overview & Scrutiny for Health Committees of the local authorities in our "patch". Our patch covers the area from Southampton/Portsmouth up to Milton Keynes and consists of four County Authorities and nine Unitaries.

  Our Forum Support Officer took the initiative and organised a meeting in Newbury on 5 December 2006, inviting all 13 Overview and Scrutiny Committees to send representatives. Chairmen and Officers from nine authorities attended a very useful meeting but it was clear at the end that the OSC folks did not understand what they will be taking on when "LINks" arrive at their door and they certainly have no comprehension as how the SCAS—PPIF (21 of us at present and 1.5 Forum Support Officers) can possibly be expected to "LINK" to so many and over so huge a geographic area?

  5.  I did challenge Dr Taylor on this aspect of what is about to happen. All we do know about LINks so far seems to be that it could consist of "up to 1000 people in an area, getting together over a local health issue" (Meredith Vivian, DoH).

  6.  This whole thing just gets more and more weird. Please do something to alert MPs and drum up some opposition to this ludicrous "airy-fairy" notion of LINks and make the DoH, or whoever, go back to the drawing board and, at least, draw up an outline of a scheme; including how it will be run, financed, resourced and by who. We were told, at the DHN seminar earlier this week, that the pilots being set up at present in 6 areas across England have been given no money, no "brief" and no resources to begin work.

Eileen Young

Chairman of Oxon & Bucks PPI Forum, South Central Ambulance Service

11 January 2007

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