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“Patient Led” NHS alarm


The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health has warned Health Ministers that they have a great deal to do to convince the public that its NHS reforms are in their best interests.


The Commission, which supports over 570 health Forums across England is being told by Forum members of real concern about the future of local health services, as NHS Trusts are obliged to merge, reduce deficits, and prepare to compete for NHS contracts in the future.


One member, former nurse Lorene Baker, of Ipswich Hospital PPI Forum, said: “Our overspend is over £8m in the Hospital alone and has to be repaid in full by March. We have been assured that patient care will not suffer!  If we believe in this we still believe in fairies.


To balance the books by March will mean closing 80 beds, a loss of 2 sessions in the theatre, cuts to a community hospital, and to mental health services. We are now in a 12 week consultation with little time left.

I have seen red and am calling for all Forums in the country to press Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt for more time to pay.”


A spokesman for Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust Forum, whose hospital tops the country’s deficit league at £30 million in the red, said: “We are in dire straits. Finances have been cut back as a fine, and the hospital needs more time to pay. We feel the Government is at fault.”


Hillary Browne of Airedale Hospitals PPI Forum said “Our Forum is concerned about the financial problems that the Trust is facing and the effects these constraints will have on patient services.”


Money worries are also forcing St George’s Healthcare Trust in London to close 60 beds towards tackling an overspend of £24.5 million.


Suzanne Kawalek, of St George’s PPI Forum, said: “The Trust assured the Forum that quality of patient care will not be reduced. “They say they will still see the same amount of patients. The Forum will closely monitor the situation to ensure patient care is not compromised.”

Sharon Grant , Chair of the Commission said:


“I am being asked by many Forums to say to Ministers that there is real grassroots concern about the future of the NHS. Drastic service changes to tackle the indebtedness Trusts are causing real alarm, and are felt to be putting at risk recent improvements in access to provision.”


“What is also coming through is a sense of real confusion about what the ‘patient-led NHS’ really means. It is hard for the public to see how cutbacks, followed by possible loss of local services as a result of competition, can be seen as being ‘patient-led’.


“And there is a growing gap of understanding between Ministers and the public as to how exactly patients will lead change in the future. This will need to be filled quickly if there is to be public support for the major restructuring of the NHS which lies ahead. It is especially important that there are proper arrangements in place to ensure dialogue and involvement by patients and communities in these changes.”





  Notes to Editors

•  For more details, call Michael Elliott, National Media Manager, 0121 222 4528 (mob 077932 45097) or see our CPPIH website:

•  Forums gather views about health services and make recommendations. They monitor the quality of local services, and look at how wider issues such as social care, transport or housing affect health.

•  There are 572 Forums, one for every Trust, and their 4,800 members around England have an unrivalled grass-roots view of what is happening in health care.


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