Last update 6th. December 2004


To London Patients' Forum members

Consultation on a London Regional Network of Patients' Forums

We are writing to seek your views on the terms in which a London Regional Network of Forums could be established.

An all-London Forum meeting on 2 November, attended by 44 Forums, agreed in principle to creating a Network. It established a Working Group to prepare a consultation with all London Patients' Forums. Following further discussion, members of the Working Group have drafted the attached consultation paper. We are asking the Chairs, Acting Chairs or leading members of all London forums to gather the views of their members on the paper, and to feed back to the Working Group the collective views of your forum.

A feedback form and stamped addressed envelope have been sent to Chairs, Acting Chairs or leading members. These should be used to send back the collective comments of your forum to me, Andrew Woodgate, by 17 January 2005.

I am funded by CPPIH London Region to act as an independent facilitator to support the consultation process. I facilitated the 2 November meeting and am currently supporting the Working Group.

If you have any queries on the paper or would like to discuss it further, please make initial contact with me by phone (01865-436034) or email and I will put you in touch with members of the Working Group.

This covering letter and the consultation paper are being circulated by CPPIH London Region at the request of the Working Group, and will be sent to FSOs and to CPPIH London Region Staff for their information.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Woodgate Framework

(on behalf of the Working Group)


  1. About this paper

    This paper sets out the recommendations of the Working Group on a London Regional Network of Patients' Forums and seeks comments from forums on these recommendations.

  2. Action requested

    The views of your forum are requested on the best basis to establish a London Regional Network of Patients' Forums. This paper is being sent to all forum members in London. Please can Chairs, Acting Chairs or leading members raise this issue with all members of your forum, preferably as a discussion at a forum meeting, and feed back to the Working Group the range of views in your forum. A feedback form for the views of the Forum is being sent to Chairs, Acting Chairs or leading members for return (in the stamped addressed envelope provided) by 17 January 2005.

  3. Background

    A meeting of London Patients' Forums was held on 2 November 2004, with the aim of gathering feedback on possibly establishing an all-London network of Patients' Forums. This meeting was attended by represent-atives of 44 forums, a majority of London Forums. Following a wide-ranging discussion, those present voted overwhelmingly in favour of the principle of a London Regional Network. A report of the meeting has been widely circulated and is available from Andrew Woodgate, the indepen-dent consultant tasked with facilitating the process of consulting on an all-London network (see section 8 below if you would like to receive a copy of this report).

    The process of consulting on the best options for the role and form of a network is being undertaken by a Working Group formed of forum members, established at the 2 November meeting. It was agreed that the purpose of the Working Group was to follow up the outputs of the 2 November meeting. Specifically, this would involve preparing a document setting out options on the nature of a network, and designing a process, for consultation with all London forums.

    The Working Group would continue in this task either until the task was complete, or until forums had been consulted at a second all-London meeting.

    It was agreed that no more than one person from any forum should be a member of the Working Group. The Working Group comprises representatives from acute, mental health and London Ambulance Service Forums, as well as from PCTs.

  4. What the Working Group recommends

    The Working Group met on 15 November and agreed the following:

    1. Purpose of a London Regional Network

      The Working Group agreed that it would be advantageous for London Patients' Forums to set up a London Regional Network. This would allow forums, in the interests of patients, carers and the public:

      1. to maximise their voice and influence
      2. to share information, experience and ideas
      3. to promote the common interest of forums for the benefit of patients d. to promote representative forums
      4. to promote the sharing of good practice
      5. to encourage good leadership of forums
      6. to channel support to areas where it was needed h. to pool resources and avoid duplication.

      All forums would remain independent bodies in their own right, as laid down in the 2002 Act.

    2. Developing informal contacts

      Not all contacts between Network members need be in formal meetings, but could be ad hoc conversations by phone, email, post or in small groupings. To promote the sharing of ideas and good practice, and to allow support between forums, contact details for forum members would be shared across the Network, with individual forum members' consent.

    3. Meetings of London Forums
      It is proposed that London Forums would meet together 2 or 3 times a year. These will probably be themed meetings. Suggested topics for meetings include:
      1. London-wide health issues
      2. forum input into FSO contract renewal
      3. training of forum members
      4. forum membership
      5. accurate and accessible information
      6. forum budgets
      7. forum membership, and
      8. communication with the NHS Appointments Commission and the Healthcare Commission. You may have other themes you want to suggest.

      These London-wide meetings would be for representatives of London forums. An initial meeting would need to discuss who might be allowed to observe at meetings and under what terms.

      Meetings could also be held between similar types of forum, or in sub-regional groupings. Similarly, all members of the Working Group favour creation, from time to time, of Working Parties on key topics, involving a cross-section of London forums and forum members. This London wide activity would complement, but not duplicate, meetings organised by CPPIH or any successor body.

    4. Resourcing a London Regional Network

      The Working Group has had an initial discussion of how a Network might be resourced and supported. The Working Group would welcome your views on this.

      As an overall view, the Working Group considers that the money currently given to CPPIH, FSOs and forums should be allocated to forums direct. The basis of allocation should be determined by forums in each Region, including how much is allocated to Regional activity. Allocation does not imply holding the money; it does mean controlling how the money is used. The responsibility and arrangements for payments should rest with the Department of Health and follow accepted principles of good accountancy practice. These steps would realise the intention of the Patients' Forum (Membership & Procedure) Regulations (if interested, see Regulation 10 (4) (d) for example).

    The Working Group therefore recommends the setting up of a London Regional Network of forums along the lines set out in this Section.

  5. Whether to establish an Executive Committee or not

    In addition to the above meetings and contacts, most members of the Working Group also favour establishing some form of Executive Committee (this may not be the final name chosen) of London Patients' Forums. They believe that such a committee would make it possible to represent forums' views to external bodies, to follow through on actions, and so on. There are various ways in which such a committee could be formed. Ideas suggested so far include a mixture of members chosen by type of forum (including a representative from London Ambulance Service) and by geographical area. An Executive Committee would have terms of reference, regular elections for membership, and so on. It may require support staff to be effective.

    Some members of the Working Group are in favour of formal and informal contacts between London forums, but do not favour establishing an Executive Committee, believing that it might be unrepresentative and political.

    The Working Group therefore seeks your views on whether an Executive Committee of London Forums should be established. If you favour the creation of an Executive Committee, the Working Group would welcome your views on its role and how it should be constituted.

  6. Following this consultation
  7. Once your views have been received, Andrew Woodgate will prepare a summary of the views expressed for consideration by the Working Group at a meeting in January. Based on your responses, the Working Group will prepare a detailed proposal for discussion, amendment and agreement at a meeting of all London Forums, probably in early March. Your contact details are requested on the reply form so that the Working Group can contact you if it wants to discuss with you any points you have made.

  8. About the views set out in this paper

    This consultation paper has been prepared by the Working Group. The views set out in this paper are the views of the Working Group and are not necessarily those of the CPPIH. This paper will be sent for information to all London FSOs and to London Region staff of the Commission.

  9. Report of the 2 November 2004 meeting

    If you would like to receive a copy of the report of the 2 November meeting of London Forums, please contact Andrew Woodgate by phoning 01865-436034 or click to email .