Last update 15th. August 2004


Notes on a London Forum Meeting of August 9th 2004

The background to the meeting was that Janet Albu (JA) had invited Forum members who she knew in person or by repute to an informal meeting at her home to discuss various issues relating to CPPIH and FSO activities - or the lack of them. That was on July 6th, just after John Reid's announcement of "the abolition of the Commission". There was agreement that a further meeting was needed when more information was available; it should be restricted to Forum members, and be held on neutral territory.

Arthur Brill (AB) kindly organised a room at the Charlie Ratchford Centre, and JA circulated the original group, inviting them to extend the invitation to other Forum members. Nick Green (NG) placed an item on the PIFFO website. Malcolm Alexander (MA) agreed to act as informal Chair for this meeting; and JA to circulate notes of main points afterwards. A list of those involved is attached. The targets of the meeting were to reach unanimous (as distinct from majority) agreement on as many points as possible, and to reach decisions on what we should do next. Coincidentally JA had had a meeting with Rosie Newbigging (RN) earlier in the day. RN offered support to this informal group, understanding perfectly what our targets are. The offer of a room at 163 Eversholt Street is only for meetings during the day (we met from 4:30 - 6:30 pm) other offers were made too (see below).

There was a lively discussion with everyone contributing; some items received vociferous support; others went by "on the nod". We agreed:

  1. There must be more transparency, especially with regard to finances.
  2. The voice of Forums should be louder, and they must direct work rather than be directed by others.
  3. Forum members must be involved in appointments to Forums whoever takes on that function, possibly on the "external assessor" system prevalent in the NHS.
  4. The management structure is unsound, with information transfer functioning badly, and sometimes not at all. Misinformation is not uncommon.
  5. Although we have all signed waivers, we are precluded from making contact with other Forum members by principles of "confidentiality"; and names have not been published.
  6. Other behaviours and failings were agreed, in particular recruitment of members from minority groups needs a more pro-active approach.
  7. During the transitional period ways must be found to protect tax-payers' money which is due to be transferred to Patients' Forums. The cost of abolishing CPPIH should be made known.
  8. The expertise of Forum members, many of whom have impressive credentials, is an untapped resource.
  9. David Hart, who was the only member of the London Region Forums invited to attend the All Party Group on PPIH Reception at the House of Commons on July 8th, should be encouraged to select any others of the group to support him at a possible further meeting. No one present demurred or opted out.

Actions agreed:

  1. There should be a London body of Forums, run by representatives from every Forum, with each Forum having one vote.
  2. A London-wide meeting is necessary as soon as possible. A "convening letter" should go out soon.
  3. The meeting to be convened and directed by Forum representatives. Michael English (ME) and JA will prepare a brief discussion paper before the end of August.
  4. Quite possibly there are other groups also meeting in London for similar purposes. We should be inclusive and seek to collaborate or merge with any such group.
  5. We will demand access to financial data from both CPPIH and FSO's. We cannot accept responsibility without information.
  6. Janet Albu