| Minister must respect
health volunteers - says CPPIH Chair
Ministers must learn to respect
those who volunteer for public service - if they are
serious about putting the public back into health decision-making.
That’s the message from CPPIH chair Sharon Grant
who said Government has to learn some hard lessons if
it is to avoid patient involvement turning into a “token
gesture or talking shop”.
Sharon Grant will tomorrow (Tuesday) tell hundreds of
members of Patient and Public Forums that Government
needs to learn from the experience of CPPIH and volunteers.
“People do want to be involved in improving conditions
in their communities. Despite all the sceptics who tell
us that people today can’t be bothered we were
able to recruit 5,000 people who do care.
“But how you treat people giving their time free
of charge is important! They are not paid employees
who will respond to orders, and cannot be marched by
the scruff of the neck in certain directions. They have
quite frankly not been given a fair deal.“
Speaking at the first national convention of PPI Forum
members, Sharon Grant also urged Government to ensure
that it has a long-term strategy for independent patient
and public involvement that really does involve people
“Involving the public must be part of a wider,
long-term strategy, with clear objectives - and not
just a token gesture or a talking shop.
“This is a huge challenge to the entrenched attitudes
and ways of working of managers and professionals in
the NHS in particular and, indeed, anywhere you are
seeking to involve the public in decision-making.
“There are real questions which governments have
to ask themselves.
· “How much influence are they really prepared
to give patients and the public?
· “Are the fine words about making the
NHS patient-centred just rhetoric, or do they really
mean what they say?
· “How can patients and the public really
influence the big national and strategic decisions about
health, as well as the local ones about service delivery
on their doorstep, in their own trusts?.
“Or is there now a really a big No Entry sign
up when it comes to allowing a real national independent
voice for patients and the public?
Sharon Grant also warned Ministers of a skills gap in
the area of supporting volunteers and promoting public
“Government departments please take note –
there is very limited capacity out there for supporting
public engagement of any kind.
“CPPIH has had to grow its own capacity - quite
successfully I think – but it was wrong of the
Department of Health to think that it could be grown
in 10 months, and they would be wrong if they think
this can be done again just as quickly under the new
“There is a skills gap, which needs to be addressed
rapidly if you are really serious about public engagement
with public services.”
Notes to editors
1. Check against delivery. Commission chair, Sharon
Grant will make a welcome speech and introduction at
2. The national convention of members of Patient and
Public Involvement in Health Forums is taking place
on June 7 and June 8 at the ICC, Broad Street, Birmingham.
3. For more details call CPPIH on 0121 222 4546.
4. There are 572 Patient and Public Involvement Forums
- one for every NHS Trust and Primary Care Trust. Their
members, almost 5,000 PPI forum volunteers, work on
local health decision making.
5. The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement
in Health is an independent body which ensures that
the public is involved in decision making about health
and health services.
6. Details of the CPPIH's work are on our website www.cppih.org