The NHS works differently in each nation of the UK.
In England some patients and members of the public are concerned that many changes to our NHS are happening without the public being involved.
WE NEED A NATIONAL NHS PUBLIC VOICE TO BE HEARD
AND to STOP THESE CHANGES
We are former contributors to the NHS Citizen Gather on-line discussion forum, which was funded by NHS England to involve the public in their work, and was closed in May 2016.
For three years individuals could talk with each other on NHS Citizen Gather, about NHS and social care services that worked well and those that didn’t meet the need for them, and could also share their ideas about how to make services better.
Some ideas were taken to an NHS Citizen Assembly where they were discussed with a number of other ‘citizens’ and these discussions included the Directors of NHS England.
In the first and second year of NHS Citizen Gather the Directors at NHS England listened to people’s ideas for improving services making many suggested changes in an open and transparent way.
But all this stopped in 2015. The NHS England Directors did nothing at all after the NHS Citizen Assembly which was held in November that year. Probably because they published, two or three weeks later, their national plan to completely restructure the NHS by developing the new Sustainability and Transformation Plans, STPs.
Their new national plan involved dividing the 209 Clinical Commission Groups across England, that planned and ‘commissioned’ NHS services, into just 44 new ‘partnerships’ that would decide together how they would each change the services in their patch, now called a ‘footprint’.
This was all because the NHS was being given less Government money to meet the public need for services.
In other words the NHS and social care services had to be ‘TRANSFORMED’ to be delivered more cheaply so they became affordable on less money – that’s the ‘SUSTAINABLE’ bit.
The on-line forum (NHS Citizen Gather) was closed and so was NHS Citizen itself. It was clearly not convenient, and much too risky, to continue to involve public individuals directly in NHS service planning.
The language used in talking about public involvementand also changed.
The PUBLIC, that had been described as ‘CITIZENS’ were now forgotten altogether and the talk was all about ‘COMMUNITIES’, and how these could be reached via the voluntary and community sector (VCS) – in other words the VCS staff would talk ‘for us’.
But COMMUNITIES were not allowed to be involved directly in planning how services are delivered – this was now to be done by PATIENT PARTNERS – who are paid and selected by NHS managers and trained how to contribute ‘properly’.
This is NOT public involvement.
So we set up this website in the autumn of 2016 for people to share ideas in a public space and to discuss how we can challenge this.
We aim to bring about a National NHS Public Voice (N-NHS-PV) which represents all of us in OUR NHS and negotiates directly, with NHS England (NHSE), for a service that the public wants and needs from OUR NHS.
We are challenging NHS England’s model of engagement which excludes members of the public completely, by only having ‘appointed’ patient partners, or representatives, selected by them.
We are exploring legal challenges to the way that NHS commissioners are ignoring their legal duty to involve the public in commissioning arrangements, including their proposals to change how services are delivered – such as the STPs.
WE PROPOSE THAT THE PUBLIC TAKE ACTION TO:
- CHALLENGE the ILLEGAL lack of public involvement in the STPs
- LOBBY for a NATIONAL NHS PUBLIC VOICE (N-NHS-PV) to be set up
And that such a National NHS Public Voice is:
DEMOCRATIC – open and inclusive to involve all the public and has accountable and elected representatives
A COLLECTIVE representative voice – where the public can openly discuss their views and these views are taken directly to NHS England
INDEPENDENT from private interests – where service providers and funders have no influence and all the N-NHS-PV decisions are made by the public
Able to INFLUENCE NHSE directly – influencing NHSE’s decisions and actions and able to hold NHSE to account for them, in addition to the statutory regulatory bodies
RESPECTFUL to everyone involved – where all accept that others may be different and have a right to a different opinion, but that discrimination and hate are not acceptable
Above all we want an NHS that:
- is owned BY the public,
- is accountable TO the public,
- is run FOR the public
- and NOT for private profit
If you agree with us please tell us via our Contact page – and join us.
We are looking to build public support for our campaign so please tell your friends about us and help us build a national demand to have THE PUBLIC VOICE HEARD in the shaping of the future of OUR NHS.
The Government, via NHS England, is making changes to create such a complex structure of decision-makers that OUR PUBLIC VOICE WILL NEVER BE HEARD.
The Government, via NHS England, is creating chaos by underfunding the NHS and forcing these complex changes in such a rush they are not being thought through properly.
The Government, via NHS England, will move services into the Private Sector piece by piece and tell us that the NHS cannot be run efficiently in the public sector.
What have we achieved so far:
- Raised awareness at NHS England (NHSE) that they are not involving the public in their work (which resulted in public representation on the new NHS Citizen Programme Board)
- Challenged the lack of public involvement reported in their (NHSE) 2015/16 Annual Report (which resulted in a new Guidance document being published in July 2016)
- Challenged the lack of public involvement in the STP (Sustainability & Transformation Plans) during 2016 (which resulted in a new Guidance document published in September 2016 giving instructions for the public to be involved)
What we still have to change:
- The lack of accountability to the public of all the appointed patient representatives
- The lack of any direct involvement for individual members of the public
- The lack of any national forum for patients & public to discuss NHS issues together
- Voluntary sector workers speaking for the public and communities
- Individual patient ‘feedback’ replacing the collective public voice