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Patient and public involvement  

  • Last modified date:
    13 November 2009

The Government is committed to empowering both individuals and communities so that they can play a greater role in shaping health and social care services.

There are several reasons for this. Citizens have told Government that they want more influence over health and social care services. It is also easier for professionals to provide a better service if they understand what the community needs.

A number of initiatives aim to help achieve a stronger voice for individuals and communities.

The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007

The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act, introduced in Parliament in December 2006, announced a number of measures relating to local government and the involvement of local communities. The Act abolished Patients’ Forums and the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health. The Act also introduced Local Involvement Networks (LINks), strengthened the NHS duty to involve and put in place a new NHS duty to report.

The Health Select Committee inquiry into Patient and Public Involvement in the NHS

On 2 November 2006, the Health Select Committee announced that it would undertake an enquiry into Patient and Public Involvement in the NHS. They published their report on 20 April 2007 and the Department published its response to the Health Select Committee's report on 11 June 2007.

The Duty to involve and consult - Section 11 of the Health and Social Care Act

Section 11 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001 (now S242 of the consolidated NHS Act 2006) places a duty on NHS trusts, Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities to make arrangements to involve and consult patients and the public in service planning and operation and in the development of proposals for changes.

Duty to report on consultation -  Sections 17A and 24A of the NHS Act 2006

There is a duty on PCTs and SHAs to produce reports each year on consultation in relation to commissioning decisions, with effect from April 2010.  The first reports will cover the period April 2009 to March 2010 and will be produced before the end of September 2010.

Local Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committees (OSCs)

Since January 2003, every local authority with social services responsibilities (150 in all) have had the power to scrutinise local health services. OSCs take on the role of scrutiny of the NHS - not just major changes but the ongoing operation and planning of services.

Patient Advice and Liaison Services

The NHS plan announced the committment to establish PALS in every Trust by 2002. All NHS Trusts and Primary care Trusts (PCTs) are responsible for resourcing and developing PALS.

Patient Advice and Liaison  Services (PALS) provide information, advice and support to help patients, families and their carers.

Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forums

Patient and Public Involvement Forums were established in 2003 to improve the quality of NHS services by bringing to trusts and PCTs the views and experiences of patients, their carers and families. They were abolished in 2008 and replaced by Local Involvement Networks (LINks).

The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH)

The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health was established 2003 to help support Patient and Public Involvement Forums. The organisation was abolished on 31 March 2008.

Community Health Councils (CHCs)

Set up by the government in 1974, there were 184 CHCs. They were abolished in December 2003 and Patient Forums established thereafter. Their main functions were to monitor local NHS services, raise matters of local public concern with health organisations and advise the public about their local NHS services and help them with complaints.

The functions of CHCs are now carried out within the current set of arrangements for PPI:

  • Overview & Scrutiny committees
  • Patient Forums
  • Patient Advice & Liaison Services
  • Independent Complaints Advocacy Services.

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