Contact us
0845 120 7111

May/ June 2006

Patients Voice

A bi-monthly media update on the work of the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forums across England


About the PPI Forums

The Patient and Public involvement Forums (PPI) are groups of volunteer working to give their local community a voice and improve local health services.

The Forums are independent, have statutory powers and are supported by the
Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health.
For more details go to

Find your local
PPI Forum

Click to find your local PPI Forum and see what they are doing in your area
click here

Commission for
Patient and Public Involvement in Health

Phone: 0845 120 7111


Largest ever survey into hospital phone charges reveals why 49p per minute
is the wrong number for patients!

PPI Forums across the country are urging hospitals to rethink their mobile phone policies in light of the high costs associated with bedside telephone services, such as those provided by Patientline.

Over 78 PPI Forums from Northumberland to Devon, conducted the biggest-ever user survey into hospital bedside phone systems, speaking to over 1,200 patients and visitors to hospitals throughout April 2006.

The results unanimously show that patients, their family and friends believe the charges to be “extortionate” – leading to additional suffering for the patient and further worry for their loved-ones as they count the cost with every call.

Click here for more details

Forum voices patients' fears of Hospital cuts

Harrogate residents have voiced their fears for patient care under health cuts at Harrogate District Hospital. Rosemary Marsh, chair of the PPI Forum, says the group is concerned about the loss of 29 beds that will come with the closure of the Farndale Ward.

The hospital has officially announced the ward would close in June 2006 in a bid to help save £5m and avoid a forecasted deficit of up to £9.2m.

The hospital has been left with less income for its local primary care trust and forced to make savings following national health policies aimed at helping the National Health Service's cash crisis.

Click here for more details

In Swindon the local PPI Forum has also expressed its fears over potential job cuts at Swindon's flagship hospital following the announcement of the Trust's financial statement.

Click here for more details

The impact of NHS debt on services

A survey of PPI Forum members has found that over 60% of those responding understand that their local NHS Trust is cutting services because of financial debts.

Click here for more details

Improving visiting hours for patients

The PPI Forum for Scarborough & North East Yorkshire Hospitals have worked with staff to improve waiting hours for patients.

Click here for more details

Going home from hospital for the elderly

The PPI Forum for Medway Hospital wants to learn from the experiences of elderly people in Medway who have recently been discharged from hospital. This is part of a review the Forum is carrying out to ensure appropriate rehabilitation is being provided for elderly patients when they are discharged.

Click here for more details

Where has our £5 million gone?

PPI Forum for Braintree have delivered a petition after public concern over the delay in the building of a new community hospital.

Click here for more details

Mental Health

Calling for improvements to
Mental Health Wards

A group of six mental health PPI Forums have called for improvements to acute psychiatric wards following a series of visits to wards.

The six mental health PPI Forums based in London carried out a series of visits to their local acute psychiatric wards as part of the ‘Ward Watch' campaign. They developed this while working closely with mental health charity Mind.

Click here for more details

Concerns over broken promises in Mental Health Services

The PPI Forum for Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust has raised concerns that some of the most vulnerable and least vocal people in West Cheshire are being asked to take double their share of the service cuts after the Trust announced a financial recovery plan.

Click here for more details

Devastating Mental Health Service Cuts

A patients' Forum in Hertfordshire has hit out this week warning that patients' care could be put at significant risk if planned cuts to mental health services by the Strategic Health Authority go ahead.

Click here for more details

back to top
back to top
Primary Care  

Forum concerns over cuts to older people's services

The PPI Forum for Haringey has expressed concerns about the impact of Haringey PCT's efforts to reduce a £13 million debt.

A long list of cutbacks being discussed by the Trust includes closing half of a stroke recovery unit for the elderly, cutting therapy services for mental health patients, making redundancies and freezing vacant posts.

Maureen Dewar, chairwoman of the Haringey Patient and Public Involvement Forum, said: "We are particularly worried about older people's services if more people have to receive care in their own homes and no more money is coming in."

Click here for more details

Working together to tackle NHS Debt

Shropshire and Telford PPI Forums have linked together and set up a Cross Forum Action Group to discuss the financial problems facing the Primary Care Trusts and the Acute Hospitals Trust in Shropshire and Telford.

The group has joined forces with local MPs to voice their concerns over proposed cuts to local health services. Top concerns have included the deficits at the two hospitals and threats of closure to the community hospitals.

The Forums are looking to recommend that the network of Community Hospitals be expanded along with community services, and that they are used to greater effect within Shropshire and Telford.

Click here for more details

Dentistry shortages in Cumbria

The Eden Valley PPI Forums have raised concerns about the dentistry shortage across North Cumbria, with the Director of Service Development for North Cumbria PCT.

Only 37.1 per cent of the 70,600 population in North Cumbria are currently registered with a dentist according to the Primary Care Trust. This includes almost two thirds of the children in the district.

Cumbrian patients, who have recently lost their NHS dentists after several practices opted to go private, have been raising their experiences with the Forum.

The Forum has now presented the public's views and experiences of local dentistry provisions to the Trust and is working to ensure that the public's views are sought and listened to in any future decisions.

Forums adapt to Trust changes

Twenty PPI Forums across England became the first to adapt to the changes in the make up of NHS Trusts.

The Forums affected have replicated the mergers in Trust boundaries that are currently taking place. The Forums have been preparing for this change for several months, with many pre-empting the changes by already working in partnership with each other.

So for every newly created Trust there is already a PPI Forum in place.

Ambulance Service  

Forum calls for public to use texting in emergencies

The PPI Forum for London Ambulance Services (LAS) has called for the public to be made more aware of the benefits of texting rather than calling ambulance services during large scale emergencies.

The Forum is making this plea based on the almost total collapse of mobile phone networks on the day of the 7 July bombings and the fact that text messaging would have freed a lot of the bandwidth congested by voice calls.

Click here for more information

back to top
Community Engagement  

Giving youth a voice

The PPI Forum for Hyndburn & Ribble Valley has held an event to encourage young people to have their say on health.

Over 70 young people from seven local schools in Accrington were given the opportunity to have a say on what they see as being the main health concerns affecting their generation at an event held last Friday at the New Era Centre. The event, called “Fit or Wot”, was hosted by the Hyndburn and Ribble Valley PCT Patient and Public Involvement Forum and was aimed at encouraging younger people to have a say on health as well as to raise awareness of local health and support services available to them.

Click here for more details

Forum completes six month consultation in Scarborough

The PPI Forum for Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale has released the results of the six month exercise to gather public views on health services in Whitby and the Esk Valley.

The Forum launched the public engagement exercise last year with the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the NHS Trust giving it their support. The exercise has enabled hundreds of individuals and local groups to have the opportunity to have their say on the future of local health services. The Forum held various public meetings, road shows and discussions with patients in the local community hospital. They also distributed 10,000 leaflets and attended radio interviews and NHS Live events.

The exercise found that key messages from patients and the community to health service providers were that they wanted better access and less waiting, better information and more choice and for health service buildings to be a clean and friendly place to be. The results of this exercise have now been used in a report by the NHS Trust.

back to top
back to top
The Future of PPI  

PPI is as important as ever

The Times Newspaper suggested last month (18/04/06) that the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forums will be the latest casualty of health reforms across Britain.

The Health Service Journal has also printed suggestions (18/05/06) that PPI Forums will evolve into Local Involvement Networks - directly funded local organisations with individual and organisation members.

In fact no decisions have yet been formally announced. We understand that the PPI Review Expert Panel set up by the Department of Health in March has produced recommendations for Ministers but that decisions have yet to be made. The CPPIH has also produced its own document presenting its view on the future of PPI and the Forums. This is available by clicking here.

So much is happening in the local NHS over the next 12 to 16 months that there is a very significant role for Forums still to play in ensuring that Trusts are held accountable and act in the best interests of the public and patients during this period.

The NHS is changing and Forums need to be active and to ensure that they are able to make considered comments on these changes and ensure the benefits are realised for the local communities they serve.

If and when changes are announced, statutory legislation will be required to make changes to the structure of the PPI Forums and this, of course, takes time. Forums continue to retain their responsibilities and powers until any changes take place and we continue to encourage anyone interested to register and join their local PPI Forum and help with this valuable work.


Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health
Phone: 0845 120 7111