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PATIENT AND PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT FORUMS GO LIVE

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Over 4,000 volunteers have been recruited to 572 Patient and Public ...
Over 4,000 volunteers have been recruited to 572 Patient and Public

Involvement Forums, the new organisations that will allow communities

in England to have a say in the provision of local health services.

From today, Patient and Public Involvement Forums (PPIFs) begin their

job of monitoring and reviewing health services from the patient's

perspective and will be encouraging and supporting others to get

involved in matters affecting health. PPIFs are independent of the

NHS and will be powerful local levers for change.

PPI Forums are the last part of the set of arrangements that support

and empower the public to be put in place. Patient advice and liaison

services are already in NHS trusts and PCTs. Independent support for

people wanting to complain about health services has been available

since September and since January local authorities have been using

their new powers to scrutinise health services from the perspective

of their local residents.

These new arrangements support the vision of a patient centred NHS -

providing patients and local communities with real opportunities to

become directly involved in decisions about their care and NHS

services and improving patients' experiences of health services.

The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH),

set up by the government in January 2003, is responsible for

recruiting the forum volunteers. It sets and monitors standards for

PPIFs and ICAS, which will ensure consistency across the country and

is a key difference between the new arrangements and community health

councils.

Minister of state for health Rosie Winterton said:

'I'm delighted to welcome these new Patient and Public Involvement

Forums. From today, the public will have a real opportunity to voice

their opinions about local health services and will be able to get

involved in shaping them.

'The huge numbers of people who applied for places on forums - ov er

4,700 - show that the public really are interested in health and, more

importantly, want to have their say.

'Last week I met a group of forum members in Birmingham, who told me

how important they feel it is for the different needs of different

communities to be reflected. Because forums will set their own

agendas, issues important to local people will be top priority.

Influencing health services is no longer the prerogative of the

professionals or those used to getting their voices heard.

'I congratulate the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in

Health, who have worked so hard in recruiting and establishing

training programmes for the volunteers who will make up these Forums.

'I would also like to pay tribute to Community Health Council (CHC)

staff and members. CHCs are abolished today. But the work they have

done over the past 29 years has put in place some very strong

foundations for the new system and has greatly influenced the

arrangements we now have.'

Sharon Grant, chair of the Commission for Patient and Public

Involvement in Healthsaid:

'This is an exciting day for the commission as the new independent

forums begin their work on the ground. This marks the start of a new

era in public participation in health and we are confident that in

the backing and support of a strong national commission, forums will

make a real contribution to improving the nation's health.'

Notes

Functions that Patient and Public Involvement Forums have include:

1. encouraging others to get involved

2. finding out what people really think about health locally and take

action

3. to independently watch over the quality of local healthcare

4. shaping decisions which impact on health

5. to influence local and national decisions as part of a growing

network for public involvement

6. being a force for fairness and change

The CPPIH will:

1. be a powerful means of pressing for change on issues raised by

Patient and Public Involvement Forums

2. provide a voice for patients and the public on a national level

3. publish its evaluation of the system of patient and public

involvement

4. advise the secretary of state for health about major issues

arising through Patient and Public Involvement Forums;

5. report any issue of concern on patient safety and welfare that it

becomes aware of to bodies such as the Commission for Health Care

Audit and Inspection (CHAI) or the National Patients Safety Agency

(NPSA);

6. oversee the delivery of Independent Complaints Advocacy Services

(ICAS) which offer independent support for NHS complainants.

ICAS is working to consistent national standards and performance

indicators and follows on logically from the establishment of PALS.

It can provide advocacy support through the formal complaints

procedure if PALS cannot resolve the issues informally.

Setting up ICAS was in response to the complaints consultation which

brought up the need for consistent independent advocacy for people

using the formal NHS complaints procedure.

The new system for patient and public involvement for England was set

out in the NHS Plan (July 2000). The NHS Plan is available at

http://www.doh.gov.uk/nhsplan/index.htm

More information about the new arrangements is available at

www.doh.gsi.gov.uk/involvingpatients

Further detail about becoming a member of a Patient and Public

Involvement Forum is available at www.cppih.org or

www.maketimeforhealth.org or by calling 0845 120 7115.

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