The new Patient and Public Involvement System


Following the passage of the NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Bill, this briefing asks:





According to the NHS Plan (July 2000), which was said to be ‘non-negotiable’:

Specific improvements achieved during the passage of the NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Bill include:

- funding will come from the CPPIH rather than the Trust that they are monitoring.

- the lifting on restrictions on who forums can report to (they are now able to report to the media and politicians, for example).

- the allocation of staff employed by the CPPIH to PCT Forums to support the work of all Forums.

- the appointment of the Chair by the NHS Appointments Commission rather than the Secretary of State.

- the appointment of future Chief Executives to be made by CPPIH itself rather than the Secretary of State.

- the ability to make reports to people or bodies it sees fit rather than being restricted to those specified by the Secretary of State.




The following is based on a description provided by the Department of Health:

In every Primary Care Trust and NHS trust there will be a Patients’ Forum that will:

In addition the PCT Patients’ Forum will:

And in every NHS trust and PCT there will be a Patient Advice and Liaison Service

that will:

In all local authorities with social services responsibilities there will be an Overview and Scrutiny Committee. They will

Nationally there will be a Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health

that will


Community Health Councils (CHCs) and the Association of CHCs for England and Wales (ACHCEW) will be abolished (a date has not been set for this).




ACHCEW, together with most commentators, believes that the changes set out above represent a very welcome and significant shift on the part of the Government. There is now a legislative framework that can provide the basis for a good system of patient and public involvement following the abolition of CHCs, provided there is the goodwill to plan a smooth transition and sufficient resources to make the new system work. The Transition Advisory Board will have a crucial role to play in advising the Department of Health on the detail and the transition to the new system. See

Some key issues are:



- Much work still needs to be done on the detail of how the new system will work in practice.

- CHCs and ACHCEW must be able to continue representing patients and the public’s interests until the new system is up and running. There needs to be a realistic timetable agreed.

- Ways must be found to retain the skills and experience of staff and members of CHCs and ACHCEW, which will be vital to the new system. This needs to happen urgently to avoid more loss of CHC staff and members.


The Department of Health has provided no indications or even estimates as to the resources that are to be made available for the new system. It is clear that very substantially more resources will be needed than have been available to CHCs if the system is to be made to work. Planning the new system and structures is almost impossible without any idea of the resources available.


ACHCEW, June 2002