New fears that patients could lose voice

PATIENTS in Suffolk could be left without a voice and a champion for more than half a year, it emerged today.For four years the Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) Patient and Public Involvement Forums (PPIs) have been campaigning on behalf of patients in the country, acting as a watchdog and monitoring the health services on offer.

PATIENTS in Suffolk could be left without a voice and a champion for more than half a year, it has been warned today.

For four years the Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) Patient and Public Involvement Forums (PPIs) have been campaigning on behalf of patients in the country, acting as a watchdog and monitoring the health services on offer.

But from April it will cease to exist.

And the body designed to replace it, the Local Involvement Network (LINk) will not at fully set up until at least September.


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Anne Nicholls, chairwoman of the current PPI and a member of the transitional LINk group which has been set up to prepare the new LINk, said: “There is no way in which the new organisations can be up and running for some months after the PPIs stop running, at least until the autumn.

“We're hoping patients won't lose their voice completely but it is a worry. I think these changes have been rushed through. I can't see it being better for patients at the moment. It makes it very frustrating that things keep changing.”

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Suffolk County Council has been tasked with setting up the new LINks, which will scrutinise both health and social services, by April.

The council is expected to commission a host organisation which will run the LINks. In Suffolk it will have a budget of £280,000.

Community services spokesman Graham Newman said: "There have been delays in publishing the regulations and uncertainty over funding.

“Our progress so far is to make these transitional arrangements while the LINk is set up properly, and with the widest possible public involvement.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “The current system that aims to give patients a voice has done a lot of good work but it has also faced barriers.

“A forum can only scrutinise NHS funded care services, not those funded by councils.

“After April, LINks will start being set-up across England to make it easier for more individuals and local groups to say what they want, to talk with the people who run care services and to scrutinise their work.

Are you concerned you will be left without a voice once the PPIs dissolve? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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