ANNUAL REPORT 2001 -2002

THE PATIENTS FORUM’S AIMS

The Patients Forum is a voluntary organisation dedicated to:

We do this by:

MAIN ACHIEVEMENTS 2001 –2002

Chair’s Report

In last year’s annual report we correctly predicted that much of the Patients Forum focus in the coming year would be on the new arrangements for involvement in the NHS. This was indeed the case. Since the last annual report the Patients Forum has continued to support discussion and debate around the new proposals. On reflection, I believe that our most valuable contribution to the process has been to facilitate development of ideas and approaches to problems that might not have otherwise emerged.

Once again, the Patients Forum organised its annual conference around the theme of involvement. Last year we tackled the issue of structures to support patient and public involvement - this year we looked at the question of how to involve hard to reach groups. As in the previous year, the conference was extremely well attended with about 300 representatives from patient and consumer health groups, health professionals, policy experts, academics and NHS managers and staff. The day saw lots of lively debate and sharing of experiences. We also took the opportunity to launch our report on patient and public involvement in National Service Frameworks (NSFs) - National Service Frameworks: involving Patients and the Public. This report highlights some very important issues about the roles of patients and carers, support groups, and voluntary organisation representatives in the development and implementation of NSFs. In relation to the conference I would like to say a special thank you to the Lawnmowers, an independent Theatre Company committed to making the voices of people with learning difficulties heard, for their creative and effective performance. Our aim for the day was for people to go away feeling inspired about involvement. Feedback from delegates would suggest that we went a long way towards meeting this goal.

It is good news that the debate about involvement arrangements has moved on from where it was this time last year. The Transition Advisory Board is making good progress on ironing out outstanding issues related to implementation. But many challenges remain. The Patients Forum will continue to support the process to ensure that these challenges are resolved.

But it would be wrong to say that the Patients Forum has been singularly focused on the new involvement arrangements that ranged from finalising the transition of the Patients Forum from an unincorporated body to a company limited by guarantee to launching a bi-monthly newsletter that includes our policy briefing and updates and news from member organisations. At our regular meetings we have dealt with a number of important developments like NHS patient surveys and the work of the Commission for Health Improvement. The last year also saw a successful bid for an extension of our section 64 funding until March 2003.

Looking forward we are committed to making sure that the Patients Forum continues its work as vital and vibrant resource. This commitment was affirmed by the outcome of a review of members’ views about the work of the Patients Forum and at a recent management committee away day. There is widespread consensus that the Patients Forum is a valued forum for its members to network, exchange information and debate. There is also widespread consensus about the value of the Patients Forum as a reference point for those who have responsibility for developing policy, including the new Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH).

We will be working hard over the next year to establish how we can contribute to the work of the CPPIH - and how we secure funding to support our work. Our ambitions for the year also include a name change to avoid confusion with the Patients Forums that are being established as part of the new arrangements.

On a more personal note, being Chair of the Patients Forum for the last two and a half years has been an immensely rewarding and enjoyable experience. I would like to thank Diana Basterfield for her hard work and great wisdom - and for making sure that the Patients Forum has stayed on track and met its objectives. A thank you must also go to all of the members of the management group who have done such a fantastic job setting out a clear and steady course for the Patients Forum. Francine Bates is stepping down this year from the Vice-Chair role and the management committee. She has been a great supporter of the Patients Forum over the years and instrumental to its success. Her contribution has been greatly appreciated - and will be greatly missed. And as always, a thank you must go to the membership of the Patients Forum.