WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.

Protest, Norwich Job Centre

Protest, Norwich Job Centre
Fatso Gets Militant!

Monday, 10 August 2009

Who Cares About LINks?

As I have no allegiance to any political party I feel a bit uncomfortable about posting this but as it is centrally important to the future of PPI and service user and carer involvement and it is in the interests of a realistic look at the future I will go ahead.

A recent note from Ruth Marsden of the National Association of LINks Members told us that Richard Taylor, Independent MP for Wyre Forest said, in response to an article in the Health Service Journal by Joan Saddler:

“I found it staggering that there was no mention of local involvement networks in Joan Saddler’s article (opinion, page 15, 23 July, HSJ). LINks are the government’s replacement for the abolished patient and public involvement in health forums and are intended to make meaningful interchange take place between patients and the public and commissioners and providers of health services. For the Director of Patient and Public Affairs to not even acknowledge these vital bodies of willing volunteers in an article on seeking out and acting on patient feedback is incomprehensible. It implies the Department of health has no interest in the success or failure of these bodies, which is the impression of some LINks members.”

In contrast, while exploring alternative policies around Quality Accounts I found this in the Conservative Office “Renewal Plan for a better NHS.” I can’t find a date for the publication of this document. It has an attributed quote for 2008 although the text quoted below talks in the present tense of LINks events dating back at least two years. Here it is, dating anomalies aside and with a health warning ‘beware of political warm, slippery words.’

“Labour have failed to provide a voice for patients:

  • Community Health Councils (CHCs) - which had originally been established in 1974 - were abolished on 1 December 2003, after almost 30 years' existence. The expertise they built up in helping patients was simply lost.

  • The longevity of CHCs contrasts with the brevity of their successor bodies: Patients' Forums. Patients' Forums were established in December 2003 and are set to be abolished by the end of this year.27

  • Labour are currently establishing Local Involvement Networks (LINKs) in the place of Patients' Forums.

These changes have delivered three different mechanisms for patients and members of the public to engage and involve themselves in the development of NHS services in less than four years. We believe that mechanisms for engaging patients in their health services need to be enduring, so that awareness and engagement increases over time and the experience of those who operate these mechanisms is retained.

In keeping with our commitment to avoid organisational upheaval, we will not abolish LINKs. We will use LINKs, when established, as the foundation of our policies for patient and public involvement in health at a local level. However, we are of the view that LINKs - as currently planned - are too weak and will have too few powers to command the confidence of patients and members of the public. Therefore, we believe that:

  • LINKs should be made independent of local authorities. Our plans to enhance the accountability of NHS services to local authorities are outlined below.

  • LINKs should be given additional powers of inspection, and the ability to act as advocates for patients who complain about NHS services.

In December 2005, an independent review of the NHS's regulatory framework - ordered by the Department of Health concluded that: " ... the importance of consumers/patients in the values of Health Service reform is frequently expressed but not always so effectively mobilised. Establishing representative national and regional to contribute a reasoned collective consumer perspective to the process of reform could well improve both the efficacy and legitimacy of that reform." We share this conclusion.

3.2.2 HealthWatch

We will establish a national consumer voice for patients:

HealthWatch. HealthWatch will provide support to patients at a national level and leadership to LINKs at a local level. It will also incorporate the functions of the Independent Complaints Advisory Body.

HealthWatch will have a clear statutory right to be consulted:

  • Over guidelines issued nationally concerning the care NHS patients should receive ('commissioning guidelines').

  • Over decisions which affect how NHS care is provided in an area. It will also be able to make representations to the NHS Board in relation to the planning of NHS services, such as where an Accident and Emergency Department closure is proposed.”

1 comment:

Mandy said...

Hi Mike

Did I miss the post about the government taking away the care component of DLA and giving it to Social Services to do with as they wish? In other words....disempowering those with disability to get care,which helps them and they pay for out of that benefit.

I can see social services reviewing people out of another level of care support and isn't like there is much care support available to the mentally ill as it is.

Can you provide me the link to the campaign that is going on? I am not up to one woman crusades these days but am prepared to stand alongside others who want to fight for what is left of the quality of our lives. Cheers :>)


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