Last update 29th. September 2006
Wednesday, 27 September 2006
I have just received the Forum Focus and read your article.
I am sure that inspections of NHS premises have enjoyed variable results, as did the CHC inspections before them. The same is probably true - no, is certainly true- of so-called "professional" inspections, by Trusts themselves or by the Healthcare Commission. It is one thing to identify a problem, and another to rectify it.
However, as a former member of a CHC and a member of the Isle of Wight Primary Care PPI Forum since its inception, I am sure that inspections are vital, and I do not doubt the capacity of the lay visitor to carry them out, with good quality and appropriate training. I do believe that such inspections need to be within the remit of the Forums and of the LINks when, and perhaps if, the latter are finally brought into being. I am certainly quite happy to work with the Healthcare Commission in carrying out inspections, which would have the useful side-effect of limiting the number of times that NHS premises and premises carrying out NHS work are inspected. But to take the lay contribution out of the system would be an extremely retrograde step. I am personally aware of changes that were brought about as a direct result of visits; and if the LINks do not have powers to carry out such visits, they will lack all hands-on, practical experience. It is all very well to say that certain inspections have led to nothing more radical than a comment about curtains, but if such comments had ever been made it indicates poor training, and probably poor selection of members in the first place.
I also question whether anyone would WANT to be part of the LINks system, or Forums, if visits to premises did not retain their importance within the PPI system - we do not wish to be bureaucratic talking shops, we want to make a difference to the NHS in our area and, one would hope, beyond it.
I think the CPPIH, in the time left to it, should be supporting statutory powers of inspection and should not allow any lack of confidence in forum members - which you will deny, but thatís what it looks like to me - to undermine further the already extremely sketchy framework that seeks to describe the LINks and what they will be able to do. It would be much more apposite, to be frank, if CPPIH addressed the very obvious conflict of interest which is created by parcelling funds out to local authorities to create the LINks, while those same local authorities provide some services which the LINks ought to be scrutinizing. Although if you were to remove the scrutiny process altogether, you might argue that would take care of itself! But no: it would be an extremely bad idea. We need those powers if we are to retain any effectiveness at all and if we are to keep the respect of the NHS Trusts and local authorities with which we deal. I hope the CPPIH will knock this idea smartly on the head, and I am confident that members locally will agree with me. As you say, we have a limited time left to make an impact on government thinking: let us for god's sake not dissipate and waste it and further undermine the already battered confidence of our members.