I’m writing about some disquiet I am feeling around the Norfolk PCT PPI
Forum and I’m writing to you first in the hope of clearing it up quickly. This is however, copied to PPlog.
Since May I’ve been absorbed by disability rights issues and getting ppeyes back on line. In the latter process which entailed reviewing everything previous, I was reminded of the issue around the original Waveney PPI Forum and my formal complaint to CPPIH about that which eventually went to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. The Ombusdsman eventually declined the complaint on the grounds it was a ‘personnel matter’ but before that they had begun investigations and CPPIH confessed their mistake. You May have had some knowledge of the issue. It is on ppeyes anyway.
The complaint was that the chair of Waveney PPI was also a non-executive director of one of the trusts involved and should not have been appointed to the Forum in the first place.
Independence is one of the overarching principles of PPI. And the regulations attempt to secure this principle.
Statutory Instrument 2003 No. 2123, The Patient’s Forums (Membership and Procedure) Regulations Clause 4 (1) (d) and (e) says:
(1) “...a person shall be disqualified for appointment if -
(d) he is an employee, officer or member of the NHS trust or Primary Care Trust for which the Patients’ Forum is established;
(e) in the case of a PCT Patients’ Forum, he is an individual who, or an employee, officer or member of an organisation which, provides services under arrangements made by the Primary Care Trust.
At a Norfolk PCT consultation meeting in early 2007 I understood it to be said that ‘Esther’, the person who took the chair at the April Norfolk PCT PPI forum meeting, was a non-executive director of Norfolk PCT. It didn’t register at the time but after the April meeting I mailed Jennie Billings saying:
“Yes it was a good meeting and I enjoyed it - despite my comments which look negative but that's because they are bald in the space provided. They're certainly not meant to be a criticism of the forum or your organisation (some good people there) - except the Chair's attempt to refuse information which should be transparently in the public domain (the names of the Mental Health working group). The excuse she tried to come up with is that she didn't have their permission and would be breaching the Data Protection Act; which is nonsense and her prevarication did annoy me (and I see it is she who is the token user on the PCT board!!!). Steve said he would let me have them. The other working groups are clearly identified in the action plan. And yes please name me - I'm never anonymous and always try to be transparent and straightforward.”
“Esther is the Deputy Chair of the Forum and was chairing the meeting in Anthony Darwood’s place who is the ‘token user’ on the PCT Board (perhaps not the wording I would have chosen J)”
Can you please investigate this and check that you don’t have Forum members who are also members of the PCT you are monitoring.
I have been concerned about these kind of breaches from the outset and wrote in an article in early 2004 (see 'writings' in ppeyes):
'In this process CPPIH has also made some dubious appointments; people with other vested interests; non-executive directors of NHS trusts with fingers in many pies and interests patently conflicting with those of service user and carer involvement; business people who refuse to publicly reveal their community connections almost turning forums into secret societies.
“In its clamour to recruit 4600 volunteers for the PPI forums by 01.12.03. the Commission appointed almost anyone who applied (they say ten percent of applicants were not appointed but that will include those who changed their own minds after interview as well as those rejected). As a result, they have installed many of the usual self-styled great and good citizen professional volunteers who do this kind of work out of self glorification and self advancement; appointees with entrenched bureaucratic and paternalistic attitudes. Their kinds of values are death to service user and carer involvement.” (‘PPI = Patient and Public Impediment’, Mike Cox, March 2004.)'
To my mind ignoring the disqualifications section of the Regulations is also a breach of Standards in Public Life. Is this widespread, and will the National Association collude with it?
Friday, 3 August 2007
I posted this to the National Association of PPI Forums Steering Group today: