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At 1 September the programme of work to set up patients' forums will be well under way and the support for them will be in place to provide a one-stop shop for information and advice; the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health (CPPIH) will be representing the patients' voice nationally; local authority overview and scrutiny committees will be scrutinising the NHS; the NHS itself will be carrying out its new duty to involve and consult the public; there will be independent support for complainants; there will be support for patients from PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) in almost all trusts; there will be a national helpline set up by CPPIH that will provide advice, information and signposting for the public about where to get advice and support; and there will be monitoring of the NHS by the Commission for Health Improvement and by patient environment action teams.
The Government have been consistent in their drive to ensure accessible and informed support for patients; provide for independent scrutiny by democratically elected representatives; and, ensure that the views and experiences of patients are fed into decisions affecting their health and health services. Massive progress has already been made.
We have listened to parliamentarians and other stakeholders, including the CPPIH, and we are responding positively to comments around the specific issue of independent monitoring of the NHS during the transition period.
We have therefore decided to make the position absolutely unassailable by retaining community health councils (CHCs) to continue their monitoring function until 1 December, at which point all patient forums will be in place to take up this role.
Sharon Grant, chair of CPPIH, has stated that this decision allows an important breathing space to help ensure a smooth handover to the new system of patient and public involvement forums in December.
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