Headlines: November 8th, 2004

A new phase in getting the public more closely involved in the National Health service is beginning with the Government opening consultations with members of the new Patient and Public Involvement Forums about new arrangements to replace the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health.The Commission and the Department of Health are sending surveys to every member of all 572 Patient and Public Involvement Forums, a total of more than 5,000 people. The surveys will be backed up by a number of in-depth workshops to build on progress in patient and public involvement in the health service.

The consultation focuses on arrangements for the future of the recruitment and appointment of PPI Forum members, staff support for the forums, their guidance and training needs and mechanisms to enable the forums to work in partnership with the NHS, local authorities and overview and scrutiny committees.

The Health Minister, Rosie Winterton, said the consulation of forum members and other stakeholders was a real opportunity for people to have their say. “Patients and the public, quite rightly, have higher expectations of the NHS than in the past. They want to be involved, informed and to influence local service provision,” she said.

The government believes the forums, established last year, have already proved to be a key resource for local people, helping them to get involved with the NHS and improving their experiences of the service.Sharon Grant, the Chair of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health said, “We are hoping that all forum members, statutory and voluntary sector health organisations, as well as the wider public will take this chance to influence how the voice of patients and the public will be heard in health in the future.”