Many of the new bodies set up to allow the public to monitor the
quality of health services are not functioning properly, according
to forum members.
Patient and public involvement forums, which replaced community
health councils on 1 December 2003, three months after the original
target date, are also struggling to attract enough members.
Each of the 572 primary care and NHS trusts in England has their
own forum. They are designed to enable service users to voice their
Mike Cox, a former member of a PCT forum in East Anglia, said many
forums had not begun to work properly as they were still engaged in
preparatory work. He added that many had also only just managed to
recruit the seven members required for them to become operational.
In time, forums aim to attract between 15 and 20 core members.
Meanwhile, a member of a London forum has claimed that the
not-for-profit organisation contracted to support the forum had
failed to provide an adequate service.
The Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, the
public body sponsored by the Department of Health that oversees the
forums, insisted in response to the claims that the forums were
working well and were making a difference in their communities.