Involving Patients and the Public in the NHS

29th November 2002 London Voluntary Sector Resource Centre 356 Holloway Road London N7 6PA

This conference provided an opportunity to consider the implications of the establishment of Patient’s Forums, Overview And Scrutiny Committees, The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health and Patients Advocacy and Liaison services. Discussion at this conference will inform our contribution to the Labour Party’s Health Policy document.


The new arrangements in brief:

In every Primary Care Trust and NHS trust there will be a Patients’ Forum that will:

  • monitor and review the services arranged and or provided by the trust from the perspective of the patient – not just the operation of services, but as amended the range too;
  • seek the views of patients receiving services provided or arranged by the trust;
  • inspect premises where NHS services are delivered;
  • make reports and recommendations to the management of the trusts;
  • refer matters of concern to OSCs, StHAs, CHI and NPSA etc – and any other person or body the forums deem appropriate including the media;
  • be represented on the Board at Non Executive Director level.

In addition the PCT Patients Forum will:

  • promote the involvement of the public in decisions and consultations on matters affecting their health;
  • commission and provide independent complaints advocacy;
  • collect information about patients’ experiences, identify trends and make reports to decision-makers;
  • put forward the views of the public to key local decision-makers;
  • help Forums work together across boundaries;
  • have to take account of Forums views when setting priorities for their work
  • provide a one stop shop service by providing advice and information to the public about public involvement;
  • monitor how well the NHS is meeting its duty to involve and consult the public.

And in every NHS trust and PCT there will be a Patient Advice and Liaison Service that will:

  • resolve problems on the spot;
  • provide information to patients, carers and their families about local health services and put people in contact with local support groups;
  • tell people about the complaints procedure and direct people to independent complaints advocacy support;
  • act as an early warning system for trusts and Patients Forums by monitoring trends and highlighting gaps in service and making reports for action to trust management. These recommendations and the trust/PCT response will be included in the annual patients’ prospectus for the trust/PCT in question.

In all local authorities with social services responsibilities there will be an Overview and Scrutiny Committee. They will

  • take on the role of scrutiny of health services including the NHS;
  • be able to refer contested service changes to the SofS;
  • be able to call NHS managers to give information about services and decisions;
  • report their recommendations locally;
  • have to be consulted by the NHS where there are to be major changes to health services.

Nationally there will be a Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health that will

  • monitor and as amended make recommendations about the performance of Patients’ Forums and providers of independent complaints advocacy support;
  • set standards for Patients’ Forums and providers of independent complaints advocacy
  • submit reports to the SofS on how the whole system of patient and public involvement is working and advise him about it
  • make reports as it sees fit to other national bodies such as CHI , the NCSC and the NPSA on patient and public involvement issues and issues that in its opinion give rise to concern about the safety or welfare of patients that have not or are not being dealt with properly
  • carry out national reviews of services from the patients perspective – collating data from forums and making recommendations to the Secretary of State, and to other bodies and persons it considers appropriate.