New system provides a chance to get involved in health issues

As a new system for involving the public in the key services that affect their lives is set to be implemented, the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forum for Westminster has cause to celebrate its achievements. Although the PPI forum will be replaced

As a new system for involving the public in the key services that affect their lives is set to be implemented, the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forum for Westminster has cause to celebrate its achievements.

Although the PPI forum will be replaced by the Link (Local Involvement Network) system, which will have a broader remit, it is clear that the work of the volunteer group has established the value of public engagement.

Through the work of the volunteers, important information has been communicated to both the Westminster Primary Care Trust (PCT) and the people who use its services and facilities.

A series of outreach programmes and surveys carried out by the PPI Forum assessed the simple steps that would facilitate the lives of the elderly in homes and give them greater levels of dignity and control over their own lives.


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Nurses in homes have now been trained to provide podiatry services so that older patients get the support when they need it, from people they already trust.

This means they do not have to wait for an appointment with what is a potentially incapacitating but simply resolved problem.

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The PPI forum has also contributed to the formation of a new policy pilot with regard to making follow-up appointments, which will see podiatry services actively calling patients to establish when they can come in.

As well as helping the PCT respond to the needs of the public, the forum has helped the public understand what services are available.

Following outreach work in the Church Street area, members realised that there was a lack of information for certain users of the medical services.

In response, the PCT produced detailed leaflets in clear and plain English.

Using this knowledge, the forum has also empowered people who might previously have felt stigmatised or ashamed of medical conditions, such as Aids or sexually transmitted infections, to seek attention.

By getting medical attention, they can be informed of the transmission risks and, in the case of some STIs, cured before they pass it on. This demonstrates that the forums work. While it seems to involve a lot of talking, there are tangible clinical benefits for the community as a whole.

Having learned from these achievements, Voluntary Action Westminster, the registered charity that coordinated the forum, is set to orchestrate the PPI replacement.

Nationwide, all PPI forums will end on March 31.

A new system, Links, which is to be in place in the borough by September, will combine the duties of the PPI forums across the borough, as well as extra scrutiny and advisory functions in the area of social services.

Instead of being based around an NHS Trust such as a PCT, as the current PPI is, the LINK will give residents of the whole borough an opportunity to become involved, with the lessons being applied across the area.

For more information on what activities are going on and how you can become involved

please contact Jill Mulelly 020-7535 0487.

Gustavo

Montes de Oca

Westminster patient & public involvement forum

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