Saturday, March 1, 2008

The 6.15 to Brighton

The Government last year published its much-trumpeted White Paper "Our Health, Our Care, Our Say" which said that Health and Social Care providers should be giving much more freedom, independence and choice to its users. That five percent of funding for acute health care should be redirected to 'community settings' to create more local, and preventative delivery. This White Paper followed hot on the heels of the public consultation creatively entitled "Your Health, Your Care, Your Say".

This paper also invented LINKs - Local Involvement Networks where patients and social care service users could dictate how and what they wanted from their services. The Government have no more idea than anyone else what this will look like - indeed, they appointed half a dozen "early adopter" authorities, most of whom spent the last eighteen months in complete confusion and inactivity.

The previous NHS mechanism - the Public and Patient Involvement Forums, or PPIFs, worked well, although they will be disbanded from 31st March, and there is more than a sense that this whole thing is just a "new idea for a new headline" much like Mr Blair's 'Big Conversation' with the nation a few years ago.

So it came as no surprise when I heard how this LINKs legislation had come into being.

Apparently, the civil servant who was proof reading the White Paper on the train home from London, felt the paper was missing something. Ah yes, some element of "public engagement" - Labour's latest wheeze.

And so it was that PPIFs were killed off, and incomprehensible LINKs were born. On the 6.15 to Brighton...


Caspar Aremi said...

I'd have to argue with you on the point that the Early Adopter Projects did nothing. I was involved in one and considering we had very limited resources, we did a huge amount of work. Reports from all of them are available on the National Centre for Involvement's website where you can see in full detail what each achieved.

Kevin Lynes said...

Caspar - thanks for your comment. I did say "...most of" rather than "all". I'm aware that there are authorities up and down the country who are working hard to make LINKs work. My issue is that Government didn't - and don't - seem to understand what it's trying to achieve with LINKs, and is relying on local authorities to define them.

I'd be interested to know which authority you're from, and what you've achieved so far - we may well be able to share progress?

Regards, Kevin