Last update 15th. May 2004
The May meetings - who do they belong to?
I understand that it is part of CIDA's job as a Forum Support Organisation to promote the May meetings that the Commission has called but it may be part of our job as Forum members to question how and in what terms these meetings have been organised.
I have a number of questions about the meetings, which I am copying to all those who received your email:
- Notice of the meetings. Why has more notice not been given (well under a month and a period in which Easter falls) when the Commission knows that many Forums will not meet during this time? Camden PCT Forum is meeting during this time but that is luck rather than design. If these meetings with the Commission are important, and the letter and your chasing email suggests they are, surely this should have ensured that all Forums met prior to the meetings, so that those attending went with knowledge of what members in each Forum wanted.
- Timing of the meetings. Why are these meetings happening in the daytime when most Forum meetings CIDA supports are held in the evenings? Is there an assumption that most Forum members don't have paid work and are available when it suits representatives of the Commission? In Camden PCT Forum for example, most members are in paid work. The Commission has not put in place arrangements for payment for attendance in lieu of lost earnings as exist with key public positions.
- Number of representatives. Why should the number of representatives per Forum be limited to 3? Surely, it should be up to the Forums to decide how many they want to send.
- Business of these meetings. What is the real purpose of these meetings? Are they simply a PR exercise? The pitch in the letter strikes me as being more connected to how the Forums can help the Commission than the other way round. The highly defensive response of the Commission's Chief Executive (Society Guardian 21 April) to the concerns
of Malcolm Alexander, the Chair of the London Ambulance Service Forum, do not build confidence that there is a listening organisation. I was particularly struck by the statement in the article that "she [Laura McMurtie, Chief Executive of CPPIH] says the CPPIH approach of supporting Forums using FSOs [such as CIDA] is cost effective as it obviates the need for forums to have their own offices." This runs completely counter to the discussions that as Chair of the Camden PCT Forum I have been having with Tim about the the possibilities of a base in Camden which could potentially serve the Forums in the Borough! I understand that other Forums in the Borough have also expressed interest in the idea of a base.
- Grouping of the Forums. Why was no consideration given to grouping Forums, such as PCT Forums, for the meetings with the Commission? PCT Forums have much in common and this could usefully be built on.
These are just my questions as a Forum member. I will raise them with colleagues on the Camden PCT Forum but would be interested in views beyond.
email Hilary Barnard