Last update 27th. June 2004
By Sam Lister, Health Correspondent
THE Government is to abolish a multimillion-pound agency that was set up just six months ago to allow patients an independent voice on how the health service is run.
The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, which has an annual budget of £23 million and 150 staff, is to go in sweeping cuts by the Department of Health. Established last December, it was hailed by ministers as a cornerstone of plans to devolve power to patients.
In an embarrassing U-turn, John Reid, the Health Secretary, will announce its abolition this month along with several other agencies to cut costs and reduce bureaucracy.
The future of almost 600 patient forums for which the commission is responsible is now in doubt. The forums act as independent ombudsmen, represent patients' interests and inspect hospitals and GPs' surgeries in response to complaints.
Times July 01, 2004