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Public tired of NHS managerial vision sessions - Health Policy Today, 29th October 2008

The most entertaining NHS story of day appeared in www.publicservice.co.uk.  It reports that a public meeting held in north Yorkshire to discuss local views on the health service failed to attract a single member of the public.  To develop services, and public involvement, it is time for the NHS to focus on ways to bring together patients and professionals.

The next stage of the Darzi plan is to involve PCTs.  Now that SHAs have developed their own vision, PCTs are taking this plan down to the next level to ask their local populations what they would like to see from their local services.

Nobody turned up to the North Yorkshire and York PCT meeting  where the public were invited to say what they thought about the quality of the health services.  The only reason we know is that a local councilor went along to express his view that the local ambulance service covered too wide an area.

The Councillor told the Whitby Gazette that he “was disappointed to find there had been no visitors as this is the future of our health services in the town.  Maybe it is just a sign that people have lost heart with the health service’.

Graham Purdy, who is the head of corporate and public affairs for the PCT, tried to be upbeat.  “While it is disappointing that we got a low turn out for our event in Whitby there’s still time for people to give us their views on health services in the area”.

It is not that the public have no interest in health services.  It is more that the public have become tired of endless consultations, talking about vague concepts with discussions that people don’t believe will make a jot of difference.

Consultations should be on specifics rather than general discussions about services in the area.

The NHS Alliance yesterday produced a report saying that  social enterprise offers the NHS a way forward in the credit crunch world .  

Their thinking is that local collaborations of clinicians can develop services more effectively, based on local knowledge and freed from NHS management.

It seems to me that the development of new providers in the NHS coupled with the development of PBC is a real opportunity to facilitate discussions between the public and healthcare providers and commissioners.

Rather than host PR events (that result in bad publicity) local NHS managers need to start facilitating discussions between clinicians and the public.