Headlines: April 24th, 2006

A new guide has been produced to explain how patients involved in improving care services should be paid or have their expenses reimbursed. The Reward and Recognition guide has been developed jointly by the Department of Health and the Care Services Improvement PartnershipLiam Byrne, the Minister for Care Services, said that each year hundreds of people contributed their time and expertise to help improve health and social care services. Those who were involved, he said, should be reimbursed their expenses and there might also be circumstances when volunteers deserved to be paid for their contribution.

He said the guide would help local health and social care organisations ensure that all service users were treated fairly and appropriately according to their circumstances. Mr. Byrne went on, “The people who usually have more to contribute are those who use services the most. By definition those people are likely to be ill, have disabilities or be carers. It is also likely that a proportion of service users will have low incomes, and therefore be in receipt of incapacity or income related benefits.”

In those case, he added, reward and reimbursement was not straightforward and it could have significant implications for people’s benefit entitlement, leaving them unsure how benefits might be affected. The guide, therefore, includes an explanation of the impact of receiving payment or reimbursement in terms of benefits, employment law and tax.

Harry Cayton, National Director for Patients and the Public, welcomed the production of the guide. “It goes some way to ensuring a sound operational framework for patient and public involvement, recognising and valuing the significant contribution volunteers and service users make,” he said.