ANNUAL REPORT 2000 - 2001

PATIENT FORUM’S AIMS

The Patients Forum is a voluntary organisation dedicated to:

We do this by:

MAIN ACHIEVEMENTS 2001-2001

Chair’s report

This has been a year of challenge and development for the Patients Forum. Fittingly, we spent some time at the outset of 2000/01 considering the outcome of a survey of member views about the direction and role of the Patients Forum. Feedback from members highlighted the value of the core work of the Patients Forum in relation to networking and information exchange – and in relation to supporting our member organisations in their efforts to influence health policy. Over the last year there have been a number of significant health policy developments and demands on patient and consumer health organisations in this area have never been greater.

NHS Health and Social Care Bill

During the last year, the Patients Forum undertook a number of specific measures that that we hope have helped our members to cope with demands on their time and to make the best use of resources. The Patients Forum co-ordinated work on the NHS Health and Social Care Bill by organising meetings with Department of Health bill team but also by supporting members develop and exchange briefings - and by making information about the different concerns and priorities of Patients Forum members more widely known. We also had a very productive meeting with the then Under Secretary of State for Health, Gisela Stuart, where we were able to put forward key areas of concern about the Health and Social Care Bill as well as a number of other issues of concern, including the new Patient’s Guide to the NHS.

Seminar

At our regular Patients Forum meetings during the year we dealt with important issues like the implications of developments in genetics, the NHS Plan and the use of electronic patient information. However, we also organised a number of important events to tackle pressing issues. Our seminar on Patient Advocacy and Liaison (Pals) and citizen advocacy is an excellent example of how the Patients Forum can facilitate debate and discussion – and share learning about important policy measures. Feedback from this event was extremely positive and we aim to hold a number of seminars in the coming year as policy issues arise. Feedback from this work also highlighted the view from our member organisations that the Patients Forum should develop this kind of work further in areas where member organisations have common concerns. For example, by helping to co-ordinate responses to new developments on behalf of the membership and helping to ensure that input from patient and health consumer groups is properly considered and taken on board by policy makers.

Patients Forum website

Two key Patients Forum achievements in 2000/01 were the establishment of the Patients Forum website (www.patientsforum.co.uk) and the Patients Forum conference on patient and public involvement. The website is very much in line with our commitment to improve networking and exchange between our own members but also between members and external players like the Department of Health, MPs, and the media. Profiles and contact details of member organisations are available on the website and members can also post briefings and responses to consultations. We made extensive use of the website to support consultation on research into the need for a new national patient body that was undertaken as part of a feasibility study funded by the Department of Health. We’ll be building on the website resource in the coming year - and will be supplementing it with a Patients Forum newsletter.

Annual conference

The Patients Forum conference was a key achievement of the year – over 200 people attended representing a wide range of patient and health organisations with a genuine interest in strengthening the arrangements for patient and public involvement. Feedback from those who attended on the day was excellent and the conference underlined the important role that the Patients Forum has to play in moving forward important policy work. It is our intention to hold another conference in 2001/02.

Patient and public involvement

The whole question of patient and public involvement may be the most important issue facing patient and health consumer groups in the coming year. The Patients Forum provided input to deliberations about new arrangements for involvement set out in Chapter 10 of the NHS Plan - and it is represented on the Steering Group and Advisory Panel set up to take forward work looking at the need for a national patient body. The clause to abolish CHCs and the National Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales (ACHCEW) has been dropped from the Health and Social Care Act, but there are still many questions about the plans for involvement o0f patients at the local and national level that need to be addressed. A further health bill and new central body are promised.

Patients Forum - the company

The Patients Forum has achieved a great deal over the last year - and the next logical step is to create a more formal organisation. During this year we have registered the Patients Forum as a limited company, The Patients Forum. Looking to the future, it is inevitable that the work on the arrangements for involvement at the local and national level will have some impact on the future of the Patients Forum and we will continue to work to ensure that the needs of our members are well represented.

Thanks

A number of thanks are due. Francine Bates, vice-chair of the Patients Forum, has been an important and much appreciated source of advice and guidance during the year. The members of the Steering Group have been enormously supportive and have played a crucial role in helping to set a clear strategic direction for the Patients Forum. On behalf of all of the members of the Patients Forum I would like to give special thank you to Barbara Meredith who is stepping down from the Steering Group this year. The Patients Forum is where it is today largely due to Barbara’s commitment and belief in the need for a network of this kind.

I would like to thank Diana Basterfield, who was confirmed as the Patients Forum Project Manager in November. Diana has been responsible for the smooth running of the Patients Forum - but also for making most of the achievements outlined above happen .

And finally thanks to the members of the Patients Forum for making it the dynamic and effective network that it is.