Upping the involvement of patients and the public is an intrinsic part of the government's health and social care reform programme, and the Department of Health publication A stronger local voice: a framework for creating a stronger local voice in the development of health and social care services sets out its plans for the future of patient and public involvement. And these plans include the establishment of Local Involvement Networks (or Links) which will replace patient forums.
The networks will work with existing voluntary and community sector groups, as well as interested individuals, to promote public and community influence in health and social care. The package of plans is designed to 'promote the importance of user and public involvement'.
Each will gather and analyse information from patients and the public, and act as an information resource for NHS planners. The DH stresses that children and young people should have an input, and existing patient forum members will also be able to get involved in decisions.