Headlines: May 17th, 2006

The strong feelings that have been expressed about the proposed reduction in Ambulance NHS Trusts from 31 to 11 have prompted the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health to ask people to express their views in Patient Forums. The forums replaced the Community Health Councils which for 29 years protected the interests of health service patients. There are 572 PPI Forums, one for each NHS Trust and they work with all sectors of the community to find out what people really think about health in their local areas.The Commission has asked people to consider joining their local Patient and Public Forum if they have strong feelings about plans to reduce the number of Ambulance Trusts. It says that as with any major change in the health service, it is imperative that the views of those who use the services are taken into consideration.

The forums which represent the Ambulance Trusts are looking at how the proposed mergers may affect patient care. Their discussions take into consideration the effect the mergers might have on response times, care in the community and staffing and other issues and they are keen that more people join them.

In its plea the Commission points out that the PPI Forums were set up by the Government to put the patient at the heart of all health decision- making. The Forums are made up of independent volunteers, who represent the local community and ensure their views influence local decisions.

In the West Midlands Region, where the plans would see four trusts merging to form a single body, Ambulance Forum member Majid Sadiq said “The PPI Forum is an important vehicle in getting the patients’ view across to NHS Bodies. The PPI Forums work to improve health service provision by voicing what services local people want. If you would like to improve health services in your area or are concerned about proposed mergers then join a PPI Forum.”