The Department is taking a number of steps to improve consultation at all levels. It has contracted with the NHS Centre for Involvement (NCI) to promote and support more effective patient and public involvement and consultation throughout the national health service. The Department is in close contact with the NCI to ensure that the NCI continues to develop its work in this area and constantly seeks to improve the support it offers to the NHS.
Additionally, the Department is currently developing statutory guidance, in accordance with the requirements of section 242 of the NHS Act 2006, which will set out the requirements of NHS bodies to involve and consult patients and the public in the design, development and improvement of health services. The Department is also completing the legislative base for local involvement networks (LINks) which are to be established from April 2008 onwards.
LINks will provide a more flexible and open means by which peoples' views and experiences can inform local services, and enable the NHS to develop a more long-term and meaningful dialogue with the public. As well as the primary and secondary legislation to support LINks, the Department is also developing supportive guidance for those involved in making LINks effective—those who participate in them as well as those organisations which will develop relationships with them. The NCI is also developing a comprehensive package of support to enable LINks to operate at their best.
Patient and public involvement is key to developing and delivering responsive and accountable health and social care services. For effective involvement, people need to feel supported and that their contribution has been valued. This can be done in a number of ways, including participants being thanked and their contribution acknowledged.
It will be for each Local Involvement Network (LINk) to determine its own policy regarding payment and reimbursement. However, we will remind LINks and host organisations that the Department’s “Reward and Recognition” document which is available in the Library and is also on the Department’s website at:
This document provides a useful guide for service providers, users and carers on the principles and practice of service user payment and reimbursement in health and social care.
The NHS Centre for Involvement is in the process of pulling together a compendium of guidance, which will be made available from 1 April 2008.
Since the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 was enacted in October last year, a great deal of work has been done to ensure that a local involvement network (LINk) is established in each local authority area.
A programme of tools and services will be available to all 150 local authorities, to support them in making arrangements for LINks activities in their area.